The Bunceton Lady Dragons basketball team have been through this before.
Facing the Drexel Lady Bobcats last year in the sectional round of the state playoffs, the Lady Dragons had their season cut short in a game they felt they let slip away.
Fast forward to last night’s rematch against Drexel at Sedalia Smith-Cotton High School. Although the Lady Bobcats entered the game at 25-4 overall, Bunceton coach Mike Arnold said he expected to move on to Saturday’s quarterfinal game at Clinton High School.
Unfortunately for Arnold and the rest of the Lady Dragons, they had deja vu all over again as Drexel ended Bunceton’s season with a 50-42 victory.
The Lady Dragons closed out the season at 22-7 overall.
“I am very disappointed right now but life goes on,” Arnold said. “I don’t think we played bad, we just didn’t do what we needed to do. We had to stop two girls and box out and we didn’t do either one of those. Drexel is a good team, though. They do a nice job and spread you out and it seemed like we were chasing them all night.”
The only players Bunceton appeared to be chasing all night was sophomore Jacy Bolton and junior Lauryn Campbell, who combined for 40 of the team’s 50 points. Bolton finished the game with 21 points while Campbell chipped in 19.
The duo also combined for 12 of the team’s 16 points in the first quarter. However, after giving up back-to-back threes to start the game to Bolton and Campbell, the Lady Dragons settled down to cut the lead to one at 8-7 after a basket by senior Rachel Emde, who finished the game with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Unfortunately for Bunceton, they had no answer for Bolton and Campbell, who sparked a 6-0 run to extend the lead back to seven at 14-7. The Lady Bobcats were also getting plenty of second chance opportunities in the first quarter despite being the smaller of the two teams.
However, after trailing 16-11 after first period’s end, Emde led the Lady Dragons back in the second quarter with back-to-back baskets to cut the lead to one at 16-15 with 4:32 left. Senior Lizzy Maddex then scored on a fastbreak for a lay-up to give Bunceton its first lead at 17-15 with 1:14 remaining.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that Bunceton could have easily increased its lead if not for a few missed opportunities.
Although the Lady Dragons wound up holding Drexel to just two points in the period, the two they scored proved large at the time when Bolton hit 2 of 2 shots with 26 seconds left to go in at the half on top 18-17.
Arnold said the second chance opportunities in the first half should never happen.
“We had the size but tonight we decided not to box out and I am not sure why,” Arnold said. “I also don’t know how many lay-ups we missed. Fundamentally, we were just terrible tonight.”
While the Lady Dragons may have not played to Arnold’s standards, they were still good enough on this night to play Drexel to a 31-31 tie at the end of three quarters.
Bunceton also outscored the Lady Bobcats 14-13 in the third quarter and led by as much as three points on three different occasions. Drexel’s biggest lead, meanwhile, came in the opening seconds of the third quarter when Campbell hit 2 of 2 shots to make it 20-17.
Campbell still got her points with five in the the period while Bolton chipped in four. Together the duo again combined for nine of the team’s 13 points.
Arnold said it was great the way the team fought back to tie the game in the third quarter but then to start the fourth quarter they let Bolton hit a three. “That’s one of the girls we were supposed to guard,” Arnold said.
That proved to be the difference as Bunceton was forced to play from behind for most of the fourth period but did rally back to cut the lead to three at 43-40 after a three-pointer by Emde with 2:32 left.
Unfortunately for the Dragons, they had no answer for the rest of the game as Drexel finished with a 7-2 run for the victory.
Despite the loss, Arnold said the girls played well. “I am proud of everyone of them out there,” Arnold said. “They worked their tails off all year. Congratulations to Drexel, they did a nice job.”
Emde said at times she felt the team played their best. “We came out slow and not really ready,” Emde said, “but that was a beatable team. Last year we came out nervous but this year we came out ready to play, we just had some mistakes that ended up hurting us. It was the hardest loss knowing that it ended everything and knowing that I could have done more.”
Senior Sam Brandes also finished the game in double figures with 11 points along with three rebounds, three steals and one assist.
Maddy Berwanger chipped in five points, five assists, four rebounds and one steal while Lizzy Maddex added four points, four rebounds and one steal, Deanne Emde with two points, five rebounds, three steals and one assist and Julia Kahle with two points, two steals, two assists and one rebound.
The Lady Dragons also had a rough night shooting the ball while hitting on only 19 of 49 shots from the field for 39 percent and 1 of 2 from the foul line for 50 percent.
The Lady Bobcats, meanwhile, hit on 13 of 18 shots from the line for 72 percent.