Bunceton with Prairie Home girls fall short in C1 D9 semis against No. 2 Otterville

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News
Bunceton with Prairie Home girls basketball player Maggie Wood (13) dribbes to the basket in the first half Tuesday night against Otterville in the semifinal round of the Class 1 District 9 Tournament at Otterville. The Lady Eagles beat Bunceton 46-43 to move on to the championship game Saturday against top-seeded Leeton at Sacred Heart High School, starting at 4 p.m.

The old adage that its hard to beat a team for the third time couldn’t have been further from the truth Tuesday night in a Class 1 District 9 Tournament matchup between No. 4 ranked Otterville and No. 9 ranked Bunceton with Prairie Home.

Although past games says the Lady Dragons should haven’t been close to Otterville, losing by 21 and 9 points previously, Bunceton gave Otterville everything they wanted and more before falling by a score of 46-43.

Bunceton closed out the season at 17-6 overall while Otterville improved to 22-2. The Lady Eagles will play top-seeded Leeton on Saturday, Feb. 27 at Sacred Heart High School in Sedalia, starting at 4 p.m.

Bunceton coach Dustin Ray said the girls gave Otterville all they wanted. “We were within one possession, and that’s all we wanted to be, and give ourselves a shot,” Ray said. “Everybody played out of their mind and I couldn’t ask for anything more out of the girls. Otterville deserves every bit of the ranking they have. However, I think we showed tonight that when we work together, we’re a good unit. I call them the mighty six. We call them DP 6 for Dragon/Panther 6.”

Otterville coach Jay Allen also knew it would be a close game. He said it was not unexpected at all.

“Maybe people who haven't been paying attention to both programs or something like that have discount with two wins earlier on, but Bunceton has done nothing but get better,” Allen said. “What you saw tonight was too dang good basketball teams that should have met in district final rather than a district semifinal and one team had to win. I thought both teams played well and both teams played hard and I couldn't be more proud of the effort.”

Despite a slow start by both teams, Ray was probably glad just to be trailing by three (8-5) after going 0 for 11 from the field in the first quarter. However, the Lady Dragons kept the game close by hitting 5 of 7 shots from the foul line in the opening period.

“We were real cold from the field in the first half,” Ray said, “but I told the girls when we went into the locker room that we were right there in the ball game. We were just having trouble getting the ball to go in the basket, and I knew that was one of our keys to victory was executing and making the shots that we’re supposed to make.”

Luckily for Bunceton, the Lady Eagles weren’t much better from the field with three field goals in the first period.

But as expected the two teams settled down somewhat in the second quarter. Although Bunceton matched Otterville with 12 points in the period and tied the game at 15-all at the 1:01 mark on a three by senior Maggie Wood, they could never really get over the hump. The Lady Eagles, meanwhile, controlled the tempo on both ends of the floor and outscored Bunceton 5-2 in the final 40 seconds to lead by three (20-17) at the break.

Allen said it was pretty clear with the two week layoff, where the team didn’t get to practice, that it affected Otterville’s style of game that they like to play more than Bunceton. “Bunceton was lights out last week against Jamestown, and they were continuing the offensive firepower tonight,” Allen said. “Everytime we had a mental breakdown, they hit a shot. I wasn’t really frustrated with the girls in the sense that we didn’t pull away in the first half, I was more frustrated with our team and that we were not executing our game plan.”

If Allen was frustrated for not executing the game plan in the first half, he was probably beside himself in the third quarter as Bunceton held a 12-8 advantage to go up by four at 32-28.

Of course back to back threes by seniors Madelynn Myers and Wood and a two from Madison Brown to cap off a 8-0 run to make it 25-22 will do that to a coach. 

The Lady Dragons also shot the ball better in the third by hitting on 5 of 13 attempts.

Add it up and it’s no wonder Bunceton held a four point lead.

However, in the final period, Otterville used its experience on the court to tie the game at 34-all after a basket by sophomore Aubrey Oehrke with 4:46 left.

The Lady Eagles never trailed after that as junior Josie Neal hit back to back threes to push the lead to 40-36 with 3:11 remaining. 

Neal also came up with a big basket after a basket by Brown to keep the lead at four at 42-38.

Allen said he wasn’t surprised by the late surge in the fourth by Neal. He said she has been that type of player all year. “Josie is an absolute amazing competitor,” Allen said. “One thing is for sure, she doesn’t remember if she missed the shot before and is willing to take that next big shot. It’s one of the things I admire the most about here. She’s got a little bit of her brother in her and I was fortunate to coach him as well.”

The Lady Dragons still had a chance, though. Down by four with 2:14 left, Bunceton came back and cut it to one after another three by Wood and two free throws by Brown to make it 44-43 with 23 seconds remaining.

However, after fouling with 17.4 seconds left, Neal hit yet another big shot to give Otterville the lead for good at 46-43.

The Lady Dragons had a chance to pull to within one but missed the front end of a one and one and later a three with 4.8 seconds left. Forced to foul after that, Otterville returned the favor with a missed free throw with 2.2 seconds remaining. However, after getting the rebound, Bunceton missed on a three-point attempt at halfcourt to end the game.

Josie Neal paced all scorers in the game for Otterville with 14, while Katie McKinney chipped in 11 and Claire Oehrke with 10.

For Bunceton, Madison Brown finished the game with 22 points along with nine rebounds and two steals. Maggie Wood added nine points, seven rebounds, five assists and one steal, while Maddie Brandes had four points, 11 rebounds and one assist, Kelsey Watson three points, five rebounds, three assists and one steal, Madelynn Myers three points and eight rebounds and Kylee Myers with two points, two rebounds and one steal.

The Lady Dragons finished the game, shooting 20 percent from the field and 70 percent from the foul line.