It takes a very special year to compile an unbeaten season. Sure-- Good players (maybe even great players), always a good (maybe super) coach, stay healthy, hit key shots, overcome momentum when it hits you in the face, avert foul trouble to a "star" player. These are few of the ingredients for a perfect season. We had the opportunity to see two 30-0 teams play back-back at Mizzou Arena this weekend.
Taking the court in the Class 4 boys championship, the Sikeston Bulldogs brought their 77 ppg average, a deep athletic top ten players and an "attitude" about beating St Francis Borgia who had knocked them off in recent years in the Quarterfinals. Sikeston employed their 3/4 court press as they custamarily do. Borgia patiently passed it around to beat the press but could not attack it for easy shots. Instead, Sikeston got back into their zone. This was not a passive zone, the perimeter was challenged constantly by the fresh, aggressive, determined guards. Borgia couldn't find thier offense much in the first half.
Sikeston used the long-range artillery bombing of Will Holified (who was quiet in the semis) to open up a 22-10 lead. Seniors Janeil Hatchett and Darryl Howard kept the Bulldogs energized as they ran the break and stayed on the boards against the taller Knights as the Bulldogs led 42-24 at half. Borgia came out in the 1-2-2 half court trap in the 2nd half and had some success in turnovers. At that point, Corey Porter demonstrated his deft touch from the inside. A 6-2 widebody, this post man blocked out, made long down court passes to ignite several fast breaks and scored key hoops(24 points) to slow down the Knights rally. His strength, positioning and touch were very impressive in the middle against the taller Knight. Sikeston went home with their first STATE crown 74-55.
The next game on the docket was the Class 4 Girls Championship. St Dominic Crusaders were making their 3rd trip to Mizzou Arena during the 5 year tenure of Coach Suzie Mennemier but were also seeking their first crown. Coach Mennemier is one the up and coming stars of the Missouri HS Coaches ranks. She's 133-11 in 5 years!! How many coaches average 2 losses a year ? Facing the Smithville Warriors(25-5) the game was tied 12-12 after one quarter. For the first 3-4 minutes, each team played cautiously offensively. Sr Sydney Catlett carried the offense for the Warriors with some 3's, drives and ballhandling as she scored all twelve points. It was still very tight at half 25-21. In the 2nd half, the versatility of the Crusades began to pay dividends (four players finished in double figures).
The perimeter play was engineered by Jennifer Rocha and the inside mobility of Leslie Wilmes and Kelly Schnieders and the defense tightened while holdign Smithville to just one shot on most occasions. It was 43-27 after 3 periods. The Crusades opened up a 20 point lead and glided into the winners circle.
Class 5 boys game saw the favored McCluer North Stars hold off the upstart Troy Trojans. Troy was coming off upsets over the Desmet Spartans and the Rock Bridge Bruins. The North Stars were ahead 31-15 at half. BJ Young was all over the court rebounding, shooting, hawking on defense as he played one of his best all-around games.
Jordan Granger and Akintoye Okunrinboye were playing key roles for Coach Randy Reed during this half. Shooting was the diference- Troy was 0 of 9 from beyond the arc while McN was 14 of 26 from the field. In the 2nd half, McN kept the Trojans from any sustained "run" and won 63-53. Young finished his HS career with 21 points. The North Stars scored 40 points in the paint to only 16 for Troy. You win the game...any game... by controlling the scoring under the hoop.
Class 5 Girls was a rematch of the 2010 battle. The Incarnate Word Academy Red Knights faced Blue Springs.These two teams had met in January at IWA as Incarnate won that game but the Wildcats were missing a premier player. IWA won this title game 59-49 but it was much, much closer than the final score. It was the powerful 1-2 inside punch of Taylor Manual, Brianna Puni and the outside excellence of Brittany Carter and Nakiah Bell that ultimately prevailed. However, it was only a 6 point game with 1 minute left (52-46-IWA). As all true champions, IWA had 6 straight free throw conversions ,from different players, to wrap it up. Coach Dan Rolfes now will have three championship rings as Coach of the Red Knights.
Who's coming next week to Columbia ?
Some would say that the Class 1 Championship Final Four is a waste of time....the winner is obvious. Some may disagree (but probably not many). Scott County Central has dominated Class 1 Boys Basketball for a long while now. They have 14 STATE championships including the last two years. They won last years' title game 95-47 and could have easily "busted the board". This year is no different. Chadwick hit a 3 pointer to take a 5-4 lead early in the game. SCC went on a long, long run (if you want to call it that!).
The Braves (27-2) scored the next 37 points of the game as part of a 60-2 run! The final score was 87-36..ugh. This was in the STATE quarterfinal game..not just some patsy. Chadwick was 20-7 going into the game but the SCC express just kept rolling. Otto Porter will be attending his 4th straight Final Four as a member of SCC Braves' team and he led the Braves with 23 points including several dazzling dunks. Jefferson awaits the talented Braves in the Class 1 semifinals.
Class 2 Girls saw a totally different type of Quarterfinal. Meadow Heights(25-4) was looking for their 3rd consecutive trip to Mizzou Arena when they faced Couch in the Quarters. This was a game of roller coaster emotions for each side. With Couch up 39-36 and only 2 minutes left in regulation as they converted free throws on the 5th foul of Senior Heather Dietiker, a leader of the team, things looked bleak. To the surprise of almost all in the gym, the game is tied on a 3-ball from Mica Morse. These were the only points of the game for Morse! It went to OT. With 11.3 seconds in OT, Whitney Welker made two charity throws to give the Panthers a 3 point lead. Next time down the court, Couch's Alex Hower drained a 3 point shot at the buzzer to tie it up and push it into 2 OT. This time Hower hit a 3-ball to open the 2nd session (she had 27 points) and Couch hit 10 of 10 from the line to win "going away". Couch advances to the STATE semifinal with a 59-50 thrilling victory.
Class 3 Boys saw an overtime game also. The Elsberry Indians surprised many observers as they tumbled the Cardinal Ritter Lions in OT 80-79. Using the motto, "believe" all year, the Indians believed in their zone defense that bent but didn't break in the win. It was the outside play of Scott Kroeger (26 points and eight assists) and the inside play of Matthew Loesing (23 points and eight rebounds) that led Elsberry. Loesing hit the game tying basket with only 6.4 seconds to send it into OT. Kroeger banged home a 3-ball in the OT that gave the Indians some space on the scoreboard and their headed to Columbia.
Going to STATE for their maiden voyage will be the Kennett Indians Girls team. Kennett (29-2) held Scott City Rams to just two field goals in the first half and won 43-28. Leading the way for the Indians were Jerica Wheeler (14 points) and Audrey Wynne (13 points). Jerica Wheeler led Kennett in scoring with 14 points and Audrey Wynne added 13.
In Class 2 Girls, Purdy trailed 36-35 at the 3rd quarter buzzer to a tall and talented Fordland (24-6) team. A big 18-11 4th quarter led Purdy to Mizzou Arena as they posted a 53-47 win. Ranked #6,Purdy was led by their All-State Players Addy Roller and Shelby White. Roller, led the scoring with 29 points including 6 from beyond the arc. White, heading to Drury next year, controlled the inside with 14 points and 15 boards. MeaganClaxton led Fordland with 24 points. Purdy will face #6 Clopton (27-3)next week.
How about this semifinal Montrose (27-0) vs Marion County (28-0) ? It's a class 1 Girls semifinal game this week. Montrose won the state title last year with an unbeaten mark !
Check our class 3 semifinal action from Mizzou Arena on Wednesdasy and
our class 1-2-3 Championship games on Saturday on Prepcasts! Get your final "touch" of HS STATE Basketball on Prepcasts! www.prepcasts.com