(Photos by Josh Mills, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Clutch free throw shooting late in the game allowed the Delta Lady Bobcats to hang on and defend their Scott-Mississippi Conference Championship Saturday. Taylor Smith sank four free throws down the stretch, to make sure the No. 1 seed Bobcats took home the conference title against the No. 2 seed Kelly Lady Hawks, 38-35.
With only 30 seconds remaining in the game, Kelly had two attempts to try and take the lead, down by only one, 34-33. After one attempt rimmed out, another Kelly player grabbed the rebound and put up a shot of her own, but was also unsuccessful.
With 15 seconds left, Smith was sent to the line for the Lady Bobcats and sank two free throws to make it a three-point game, 36-33.
The next possession for Kelly went into the hands Debra Hall, their leading scorer on the night. Hall then took a shot from around the 3-point line and drained it. A thunderous ovation from the Kelly cheering section soon fell silent after the shot was ruled only a two pointer, because Hall's foot was on the line.
The inbounds pass after a timeout, went to Smith again, and was immediately fouled. Smith stepped to the line and stifled any chances of a Lady Hawks comeback, draining both free throws to make it a 38-35 final.
"We're always glad to win the conference," Delta head coach Randy White said. "We're the littlest school in the conference so, it's always a big thrill for us to win the conference tournament. This is our second year in-a-row winning the conference, so, that's quite an accomplishment for our kids."
Smith led the Lady Bobcats with 15 points. Smith also was a perfect 9-9 from the free throw line. Sarah Keys chipped in with nine points.
Even escaping with a win, White said he believed his team was out-played.
Hall scored 15 points for the Lady Hawks and also went 5-6 from the free throw line.
Kelly head coach Rod McQuerter said that his young players really stepped up and helped out a lot in a pressure-packed championship game.
"I'm very proud of my freshmen and sophomores," McQuerter said. "They came out and competed and they played hard. Given the circumstances of the game, it was a championship game but I'm proud of my young girls."
Sophomore Londyn Backfisch was Kelly's second leading scorer with 10 points and freshman Kristen Powell finished the game with four points.
"Our team played very well," McQuerter said. "They had a positive attitude and they competed for four quarters. The ball just didn't go in and we had a few defensive breakdowns. Give Delta credit, they made plays when they needed to."
Delta took an 11-6 lead after one quarter of play. Then bumped that lead up to nine, 19-10, at the end of the first half.
Kelly answered back in the third quarter, out-scoring the Lady Bobcats 11-7 to make it a five-point game to set up the thrilling fourth quarter.
The Kelly Lady Hawks (10-4) will try to get one back in the win column tonight, when they travel to Scott City to take on the Lady Rams.
The Oran Lady Eagles flew past the Scott City Lady Rams Saturday, to win third place in the Scott-Mississippi Conference tournament, 64-30.
"The effort and the chemistry is the difference in our basketball team right now," Oran head coach Adam Friga said. "Our kids are just playing for each other out there right now. They've all bought into the concept now that the team is more important than anybody out there and that's all that matters. Weâ're just playing together."
Senior Callie Kielhofner led that effort with 18 points, while Kirstie Mangles added 15 points and also hit three 3-pointers.
Also with 15 points, was freshman Cheyenne King, who proved to be an inside threat for Oran all throughout the tournament.
Oran started out quickly, taking a 14-5 lead at the end of the first quarter and would never look back.
The score was 36-22 at half time in favor of the Lady Eagles.
Oran made a push to take their lead even further, out-scoring Scott City 16-
4, to make it a 52-26 game after three quarters of play.
"Our kids have never been lazy, but they're starting to buy into the philosophy of playing hard together and playing for each other," Friga said. "I'm real proud of the effort tonight.
"Scott City is a good basketball team, they're well coached and they play hard. They battled us until the end of the ball game. It was just our night tonight."
Scott City was lead by Stephanie Essner who scored 11 points. Emily Essner chipped in with 6 points.
"Today was by far the worst game we've played all year," Scott City head coach John Nanney said. "Throughout the year, I thought, that we consistently have shown we have improved. Today, I don't know what it was, just a bad day. We couldn't make anything. They made every shot they seemed to put up, so it was just a real struggle for us."
The Lady Eagles will try and add another win to their record tonight, when they host Woodland.
The junior varsity championship also featured the Lady Eagles and Lady Rams, Oran once again was victorious defeating Scott City, 42-23.
Haley Glastetter led Oran with 14 points. Roxanne Walter and Bethany Asmus both scored eight points apiece.
Scott City was led by Ashley Brant's nine points.
Oran went into the tournament seeded fifth and defeated the No. 4 seed Kelly then the No. 1 seed, Delta, in the second round, followed by the No. 2 seed Scott City Rams to win the championship.
"I told them winning is contagious sometimes, Oran coach Adam Friga said. "I told our kids that seeds don't matter. We're going to go out there and play, whoever we play, and we're going to play them hard and we're going to leave it out on the court for four quarters, and they did tonight. The kids are working hard and I'm dang proud of it, I really am."