The 2016-17 season brought many exciting moments for the Boonville Lady Pirates basketball team.
Along with finishing 24-3 overall, the Lady Pirates also captured their fourth straight NCMC title by going undefeated in 12 games not to mention they also brought home some hardware by placing first in both the California and Centralia Invitational Tournaments.
But that’s not all. The Boonville Lady Pirates also won several big games this season by knocking off state-ranked California and Southern Boone in the same week in the California Invitational Tournament by the scores of 55-39 and 56-52, respectively. In addition, the Lady Pirates also beat Class 4 Helias 47-40 and then pulled off a huge upset on the road by knocking off No. 2 ranked Chillicothe in two overtimes 55-50.
The win over the Lady Hornets also vaulted Boonville as high as No. 3 in the MBCA poll. But the Lady Pirates weren’t done yet. However after capturing their fourth straight district title, which included a rally in the second half from 10 down to beat California for the title, Boonville saw its Final Four hopes dashed in the sectional round of the state playoffs by losing to Kansas City Southeast 41-36.
Although the loss was a major disappointment for the Lady Pirates, who had lofty goals to play in their second Final Four in three years, the good news is that four of the five starters return next season under head coach Jaryt Hunziker.
Hunziker talks about the 2016-17 season and the highs and lows that come with it:
Q: What are your thoughts on the 2016-17 season?
A: Even though we wanted it to end different, we had another memorable year finishing at 24-3. After losing All-State Sr. guard Paige Renfrow to an ACL tear before the season even started there were a lot of question marks on how good we would be. But after a handful of games I told the girls that I felt we could have something very special. By this time everyone knew what their role was on the team and was playing that role to the best of their ability. Defensively I was impressed all year on their level of play that continued to improve throughout the season. When you think of Lady Pirate Basketball you think of our defensive style and this was one of my best groups I have coached. During the season we kept teams to an average of around 35 ppg which is impressive at the same time scoring at a pace of almost 60 ppg. We have a very competitive schedule that includes the likes of many state ranked teams along with other traditionally competitive programs. So when you finish the regular season with only two losses and beat many of those teams you have to be very proud of what we accomplished.
Q: What do you feel like the highlight or highlights of the season were?
A: We had many special moments throughout the season that we will always cherish. Winning both the Centralia and California Tournaments was remarkable. Winning the Centralia Tournament the third week of the season gave us confidence that we were headed in the right direction. But what came a month later at the California Tournament gave us a mindset that we felt we could compete and beat anyone on our schedule. To win three straight games on three consecutive nights against two state ranked teams gave us an identity. Another highlight was finishing off the regular season beating Class 4 No. 2 ranked Chillicothe on the road. Chillicothe is believed to be one of the best teams in MO this season so by defeating them going into Districts was what we needed. Winning both the NCMC and District Titles for the same four consecutive years is something that we took a lot of pride in. I don't think that has ever been done by any other girls or boys sport in Boonville history.
Q: In your words what was the teams best game or games?
A: It would be hard to beat our performance at the California Tournament. That was a week to remember especially since it happened in only three days. Going off of very little rest and no court time to prepare, you would think would be a disaster but it turned out to be the making of something special. I think we shocked many people that week beating #9 ranked California on a Wednesday then turning around and taking care of business versus undefeated #2 ranked Southern Boone the next evening.
Q: What about the conference this season? Did you feel like the conference was fairly balanced this season or was it below what it has been in the past?
A: ​Going into the season I felt we were still one of the best teams again in the NCMC. We knew teams like Marshall, Moberly and Mexico would be very competitive since they had many returning players from last year. We knew we would have to play well on any conference night in order to come out on top. With about all of the teams bringing back many key players look for the conference to be even tougher in 2017-2018.
Q: What about the Lady Pirates capturing their fourth straight NCMC title? That's hard to do I don't care what kind of a conference it is.
A: It is hard to do especially when you have a huge target on your back night in and night out. Everyone wants to knock the top team off once you get there. It is usually harder staying there but I have been lucky to have great groups of girls that work hard at maintaining our success in the NCMC. Also it says something about our program when we have continued the success with different looking teams.
Q: You won two tournaments this year (California and Centralia) so that had to be nice?
A: Winning both tournament titles gave us confidence and motivation at different parts of the season. The California Tournament is always a good measuring stick due to how competitive it is especially at about the halfway point of the season.
Q: After losing Paige to injury, did you feel like this team maybe over exceeded this season by winning 24 games?
A: I think after we lost Paige most people would have looked at me strange if I would have said we are going to accomplish what we did knowing we lost six out of our top 10 from last season. Like I said earlier though, after about eight games I knew we had something special and my goals/expectations for the season increased. At that time I now believed we could win the NCMC again and make another run at a District Title. But what we accomplished with the many impressive victories (Southern Boone, Chillicothe, Helias, California, Palmyra) was amazing and will go down as one of my most memorable seasons. To also be recognized as one of the top Class 3 teams in the state throughout the season let the girls know that their efforts were not going unnoticed.
Q: If you could pinpoint why this team had so much success this season, what would it be and why?
A: It is because they believe in and play hard for one another-simple as that. Over the last handful of years we have done our best at making Boonville a respected program across the state which I believe we have. The girls work hard every day in practice so they can do their part in keeping the tradition alive and I thank them for their efforts.
Q: Losing in the sectional round of the state playoffs was not where you wanted to finish. How tough is it to have your season over when you know the Lady Pirates were good enough to get to the Final Four?
A: It has been really tough for us cause we know we didn't play the way we intended to and that cost us the chance to be one game closer to the Final Four. You can live with the results when you gave your best effort or the other team was just better. In our case we felt we were the better team and that will be tough on us. I now see it as motivation for next season to work even harder so we can allow each other to experience that feeling of making another run.
Q: You lose two players (Hannah and Paige) but return four starters for the 2016-17 season. What does next year hold for the Lady Pirates?
A: First of all we are going to miss Hannah and Paige. They both have contributed so much to this program and played a huge role in getting us to where we are today. I thank them so much for their hard work and dedication. The success of next season will always be based on how dedicated the players will be from now until then on making themselves better players and athletes. We have the pieces to put together another great run and I'm excited for that. I would also love to contend for our final NCMC Title since we will be leaving for a new conference. Many of the conference teams will have something to say about that since they return many solid players and are hungry for capturing it themselves. Thinking about using “Unfinished Business” as a motto just to keep the team focused on the mentality needed to accomplish our goals.
Q: This team didn't seem to get rattled much this season. Why is that?
A: ​Confidence and a winning mentality goes along ways. We believe in how we do things in the program and love representing BHS and the Boonville community.
Q: What about the offseason? What do you plan doing with the team this summer?​
A: Get back to work. Like we do every summer we will take a few days at the end of May to hold our own Team Camp which will help us prepare for summer leagues and games. Throughout June we will use up to 20 contact days to get the girls in the gym to improve on fundamental skills needed to have success along with games versus other area teams. I always ask the girls in the summer to be as dedicated as they can in making themselves and the program better since I know everyone is busy.

24-3 overall, 12-0 NCMC
California 45, Boonville 39
Boonville 67, Mexico 24
Boonville 55, North Callaway 32
Boonville 56, Salisbury 32
Boonville 49, Centralia 20
Boonville 52, Marshall 41
Boonville 61, Fulton 21
Boonville 48, Moberly 32
Boonville 61, Palmyra 28
Boonville 76, Fulton 17
Boonville 63, Fulton 27
Boonville 55, California 39
Boonville 56, Southern Boone 52
Boonville 77, Hannibal 26
Boonville 52, Kirksville 19
Southern Boone 72, Boonville 45
Boonville 65, Mexico 49
Boonville 70, Kirksville 31
Boonville 47, Helias 40
Boonville 73, Hannibal 40
Boonville 38, Marshall 34
Boonville 58, Moberly 31
Boonville 55, Chillicothe 50 2OT
Boonville 95, Versailles 26
Boonville 65, Sherwood 34
Boonville 60, California 45
KC Southeast 41, Boonville 36