After dropping all five meetings last year against the Otterville Lady Eagles, the Bunceton girls basketball team got its payback Friday night in the championship in the Class 1 District 8 Tournament at Northwest of Hughesville.
While winning 48-35 for their fourth straight win over Otterville this season, the Lady Dragons will also get to move on to the sectional round of the state playoffs on Tuesday, Feb. 26th, weather permitting, at Harrisonville High School. Bunceton, 24-2 on the season, will face Drexel, 20-8, in the late game starting at 7:15 p.m.
Drexel won the Class 1 District 7 title on Saturday by beating Montrose 45-35.
Of course the Lady Dragons weren't the only winners in the district. The Pilot Grove boys basketball team also picked up a district title by turning back Otterville 51-46.
The Tigers, 23-6 on the season, will play top-ranked Drexel, 27-1, in a sectional game Tuesday starting at 5:30 p.m.
Drexel won 91-34 over Appleton City in the district championship.
While winning its first-ever district title, Bunceton girls basketball coach Mike Arnold said he told the girls after the game that it has only begun.
"We are back to 0-0," stated Arnold. "We have a game Tuesday night and you know they are going to be good because they are still left. We have to come out and play our ballgame and get better no matter who we are playing."
Winning the title was also sweet for Arnold, who last won a district title six years ago.
"It's nice to do it again," Arnold said. "I guess turnabout was fair play against Otterville since they beat us five times last year. I thought the girls came out with the intensity we needed to have but we kind of lost it there in the fourth. I believed they looked up and saw the scoreboard and I said don't look at it. I said we are playing now to get better every minute of every game. It's also not in our nature to slow it down. We are going to keep it going. We turned it over there late trying to get bounce passes, but that's how we are going to play."
With only one player in double figures for the game, the Lady Dragons still managed to beat Otterville up and down the court. Of course it didn't hurt that Bunceton scored the game's first-eight points or that the Lady Dragons made 8 of 12 shots from the first in the first quarter to lead 18-6.
With junior Rachel Emde leading the way for the Lady Dragons with 23 points and 14 rebounds, Bunceton also extended its lead over Otterville in the second quarter by reeling off six straight during a two-minute stretch to make it 24-6 with 5:11 left.
However after going up 29-9 with 4:04 left after a three by Emde, the Lady Dragons hit a scoring drought for the rest of the half.
Page 2 of 3 - That's the bad news. The good news is that Otterville managed only one field goal for the half as well to trail at the break by a score of 29-11.
Arnold said he thought the girls got a little tired late in the first half. "We talked about that at halftime," Arnold said. "I told the girls to keep attacking and for the most part we did in the second half. However, I thought we quit going inside, and then we turned the ball over quite a bit in the second half. We stopped doing what we do best. But Rachel stepped out and hit a couple of big shots for us and we got through it."
Although Otterville outscored Bunceton 11-9 in the third quarter, they could never get any closer than 16 points.
The Lady Eagles also held a 13-10 advantage in the final period. But even then while Bunceton managed only two field goals in the fourth, they never let Otterville get any closer than 13 in the final eight minutes.
Arnold said even though his team didn't play particularly well in the second half, he saw heart and willingness not to lose. "They just played not to lose," Arnold said. "They were going to play as hard as they could and play to win no matter what happened."
In addition to her double-double for the game, Emde also had four steals and one assist for the Lady Dragons.
Julia Kahle added eight points, five rebounds and three assists, while Sam Brandes had seven points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals, Maddy Berwanger with six points, five rebounds, three assists and one steal and Erica Kahle with four points, three assists, three steals and two rebounds.
For Otterville, who closed out the season at 19-8 overall, Hannah Stone had 24 points.
In the boys championship game, Pilot Grove head coach Rick Grunden said beating the Eagles in their two previous meetings didn't matter.
"It is extremely difficult to beat a competitive team three times in one season," Grunden said. "This was when it really counted; this was the most important one. Overall, we controlled the game for the first-three quarters. We allowed their biggest scoring threat, Ryan Benny, to drop several big buckets in the fourth quarter. That nearly let it slip away.
"We had a big night from Colton Glenn. He came out ready to play and dropped some big shots for us. Kendall Kraus was a man down low and cleaned the glass very well. Kendall managed to score on some big putbacks for us that really helped with momentum. Mason Schlotzhauer played very good defense and hit some things all over the floor, and Dylan Twenter gave us excellent energy down low, especially rebounding."
Page 3 of 3 - Although the Tigers finished the game with three players in double figures. the Eagles gave them everything they wanted and more for the first-two quarters while playing to a 10-10 tie after a three by senior Ryan Benny at the 1:35 mark. However over the final minute of the period, Pilot Grove came back and reeled off seven straight points on a three by Colton Glenn and a basket and two free throws by Kendall Kraus to make it 17-10.
The game got really interesting in the second quarter as the Tigers started the period 0 for 4 from the field while Otterville came out and reeled off back-to-back baskets to cut the lead to three at 17-14 with 5:29 left.
However, after increasing the lead to seven at 22-15 with 4:35 remaining, senior Dylan Twenter came back with the play of the game with a one-handed dunk to make it 24-15.
The Eagles, however, scored the final four points to cut the lead back to five at 24-19.
The third quarter was all Pilot Grove as the Tigers put together runs of six and eight points to stretch the lead to 16 at 38-22 with 20 seconds left.
Pilot Grove also outscored Otterville 14-5 in the third to go up 38-24 after three.
However, in the final period, the Eagles made it interesting by outscoring Pilot Grove 14-2 during a three-minute stretch to cut the lead to four at 46-42 with 1:44 remaining.
Otterville also had it down to three at 48-45 after a three by Benny with 1:22 left. But over the next minute, the Tigers made their free throws when they counted the most to win the game by five.
"We did managed to hang on through Otterville's final push to bring home the district title," Grunden said. "I cannot say how proud I am of each of these kids. Everyone works hard at doing their job, no matter what that job is. I am very happy for my boys, their hard work has paid off."
Colton Glenn had 19 points to lead all scorers for Pilot Grove while Kendall Kraus added 14, Mason Schlotzhauer 10 and Dylan Twenter eight.
For Otterville, Ryan Benny tossed in 24 points.