Will play Drexel in sectionals Tuesday at Smith-Cotton

After falling to Drexel in the sectional round of the state playoffs in 2013, the Bunceton Lady Dragons basketball team vowed to return to the state playoffs again in 2014.
While losing only one starter to graduation, the Lady Dragons looked to be well on their way. But then in November, Bunceton lost another starter to a ACL injury. Luckily for the Lady Dragons, senior Maddy Berwanger healed in a hurry while returning to the court in February.
Since her return, Bunceton has captured the CCAA title and just recently won a district title by beating arch-rival Pilot Grove 68-54 in the Class 1 District 8 championship Saturday at Northwest High School in Hughesville.
The Lady Dragons, 22-6 on the season, will play Drexel, 25-4, in the sectional round of the state playoffs on Tuesday, March 4th at Sedalia Smith-Cotton starting at 6 p.m.
While splitting games during the regular season at each other’s home court, the stakes Saturday  were a little higher with the winning team moving on and the losing team going home.
As it turned out, the Lady Dragons will be moving on while leading Pilot Grove at the end of each quarter.
But even then Pilot Grove, who closed out the season at 19-9, was able to keep the game close while trailing by just three (14-11) after first period’s end. Unfortunately for the Lady Tigers, they never got any closer in the ballgame as Bunceton went in at the break on top 33-23. Meanwhile, in the second half, the Lady Dragons continued to dominate in the paint by outscoring Pilot Grove 15-10 in the third period to extend the lead to 48-33.
The Lady Tigers didn’t go down without a fight, though. In the final period, Pilot Grove rallied back with a 21-20 advantage to cut the lead to 14.
Bunceton coach Mike Arnold said he thought the girls came out ready to play and guarded really well. “We had a lot of girls step up and play some of their best games,” Arnold said. “I am very proud of the girls for winning back-to-back district championships and look forward to play a little better against Drexel.”
Senior Rachel Emde led three players in double figures for Bunceton with 22 points along with 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocked shots.
Lizzy Maddex finished the game with 18 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and one assist while Deanne Emde added 15 points, six rebounds, two steals and one assist, Maddy Berwanger with five points, seven assists, three rebounds and one steal, Samantha Brandes with four points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocked shots and Julia Kahle with four points, three rebounds, three assists and one steal.
Pilot Grove coach Landon Daniel said they game planned for Bunceton’s big three and were going to make their role players have to step up and beat them and unfortunately for the Lady Tigers, they did.
“Our girls never gave up in the game and made a few really big runs to get it close but we could never quite get over the hump and part of that was we never got going from the outside like we needed to. Allison Weekley went out in the second quarter with what ended up as a fractured nose but she never quit either and hit a big shot in the third quarter. Kerigan Wessing and Melissa Schlotzhauer both did their thing with double-doubles and Melissa hit her 1,000th point in the game as well. I am very proud of our girls and their season and look forward to next season with only losing one girl from the team.”

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