SCHS rally falls short in consolation finals

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SCHS players and coaches on the fourth place team in the Class 4A-DII state tournament are (front row, from left) Lyndi Rumford, Macie Price, Kaitlyn Roberts, Jacy Rose and Madison Shapland. (Back row) head coach Sarah McCormick, Nancy Wiebe, Kiana Yager, Emily Smith, Paige Winderlin, Emily Weathers, Katie McGonagle, assistant coach Jim Turner, Bailey Latta and assistant coach Erin Myers.

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SCHS players and coaches on the fourth place team in the Class 4A-DII state tournament are (front row, from left) Lyndi Rumford, Macie Price, Kaitlyn Roberts, Jacy Rose and Madison Shapland. (Back row) head coach Sarah McCormick, Nancy Wiebe, Kiana Yager, Emily Smith, Paige Winderlin, Emily Weathers, Katie McGonagle, assistant coach Jim Turner, Bailey Latta and assistant coach Erin Myers.

By Rod Haxton, editor
There’s something to be said for a team that seemingly always finds itself in a close game.
When you’re in those situations often enough it becomes second-nature.
You don’t panic.
On the other hand, there’s little opportunity for fans or coaches to relax.
That, in a nutshell, describes the season finale - and the season - for the Scott Community High School girls.
In the consolation finals of the Class 4A-DII tournament on Saturday, the Lady Beavers fell behind by double digits early, battled back to take the lead, but didn’t have quite enough down the stretch to avoid a season-ending 57-54 loss to Andale.
It was still a remarkable finish for Scott City (14-11) in its first-ever state basketball appearance.
And if not for digging themselves into a 13-0 hole in the game’s first 4-1/2 minutes, the history-making season very likely would have ended with the Lady Beavers bringing home their first state basketball trophy.
“We put ourselves into a bad situation,” says senior Kiana Yager. “After the loss last night (in the semi-finals) I think we were down a little bit and it took awhile to come back from that and realize we had another game to play. It would have been nice if we hadn’t put ourselves in that hole at the beginning, but I was proud of how we got out of it.
“We’ve been in a lot of close games. It’s all about staying calm and we’re good at staying calm.”
“I was worried the Girard game would take a lot of energy from our girls and it did,” said head coach Sarah McCormick. “We came out tired, but we saw the girls weren’t ready to be done. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of energy to climb out of a big hole.”
Scott City Rallies
After a very rough start, during the next 19-1/2 minutes, SCHS was the better team on the floor.
Having missed their first six shots from the field, and despite hitting just two of their first 10 field goals, the Lady Beavers regrouped for a 15-2 scoring blitz.
They scored eight unanswered points during a stretch that began with a Bailey Latta field goal to close out the first quarter and resumed with a three-pointer by Latta to open the second period.
Junior guard Macie Price tied the game at 15-15 when she drove coast-to-coast in traffic. Price, who finished with a game high 23 points, gave SCHS its first lead of the night, 18-17, following a three-pointer at the 5:29 mark.
“Coach told us during a timeout that we guards needed to drive more and do a better job of getting the ball to the post,” noted Price. “Once we started doing that there were more openings and it created more scoring opportunities.”
Scott City’s biggest lead of the game was five points on two occasions - 23-18 following a putback by Yager and with 2:53 left in the first half when Yager hit a pair of free throws to put her team on top, 25-20.
Andale regained the lead when they scored seven consecutive points, but Yager answered with a basket and Price again weaved her way through the Lady Indians’ defense on a coast-to-coast drive that ended with a floater just ahead of the buzzer to put SCHS back on top at the intermission, 29-27.
Fouls Favor Scott
While rallying from their early deficit, the Lady Beavers were effective in attacking the basket. Two Andale starters - 5-foot-10 senior Jill Bergkamp and junior guard Tyler Winter - each had three fouls in the first half and were limited to just nine and seven minutes of playing time, respectively.
“In the first half the refs were calling it tight. We needed to keep pressure on their big girls and get them out of the game,” noted Yager.
That didn’t happen as Bergkamp and 5-foot-11 junior Morgan Geist each finished the game with four fouls while combining for 20 points and 15 rebounds.
“We kept reminding the girls that (Andale is) in foul trouble. We had to attack,” said McCormick. “Andale was a completely different team than the one we played the day before. They didn’t have a big shot-blocker. We needed to attack inside and force the issue and we didn’t until real late in the game.”
Andale was called for 12 fouls in the first half, but added just seven more in the second half.
Second Half Drought
Latta opened the second half with a basket that extended Scott City’s lead to four points, 31-27. However, the Lady Beavers wouldn’t score again from the field for the next five minutes while Andale put together a 12-2 scoring run that extended their lead to 39-33 with 3:17 left in the period.
“We got away from what was working. We quit penetrating and we didn’t get the ball to the post,” McCormick says of the costly stretch during which Scott City’s only points were a pair of Latta free throws. “We were too content with shooting on the perimeter.”
Price gave her team hope for yet another rally when she turned a steal into a three-point play and in the final minute added a three-point basket that cut the deficit to 41-39 heading into the final quarter.
SCHS refused to go away, cutting the lead to a single basket on two occasions before Andale again stretched their cushion to six points, 50-44, with 4:45 to play. Junior center Emily Smith, who finished with nine points and nine rebounds, brought a roar from the Scott City crowd when she converted a three-point play and followed with a putback that left Scott City trailing, 50-49, with 2:32 on the clock.
Free throw shooting was the difference down the stretch with Andale hitting 7-of-10 in the final 1:41. Charity tosses were enough for Andale to extend its lead to 55-49 with 21.9 seconds to play.
Smith added a field goal with 6.2 seconds to play and Price closed out the SCHS season with a three-point buzzer beater for the final three point margin.
Price felt the team may have missed its opportunity to gain momentum early in the fourth quarter when “it felt we were on cruise control and we should have been pushing it more than we were.”
And shots simply weren’t falling late in the game that the Lady Beavers typically expect to make.
After shooting 45 percent (10-of-22) in the first half, SCHS was just 8-of-27 (30%) from the field in the second half.
Scott City was a very solid 6-of-15 from three-point range in the game, including a 4-of-6 performance by Price.

“Some of the shots we had late in the game simply weren’t falling. We were getting good looks, but we needed a couple of those to go in,” adds McCormick.

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