On to the finals: Boonville girls win 48-44 over Benton in Class 4 semifinals

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News
Boonville girls basketball coach Jaryt Hunziker shouts encouragement to his players in the second half Friday night in a Class 4 semifinal game Friday night at JQH Arena in Springfield.
Boonville senior Jodie Bass puts up a shot from the outside in the first half Friday night against Benton in a Class 4 semifinal game at JQH Arena in Springfield.
Boonville junior Addi Brownfield drives to the basket in the first half Friday night against Benton in a Class 4 semifinal game at JQH Arena in Springfield.

Boonville Lady Pirates basketball coach Jaryt Hunziker knows his team will have to play better to bring home the title Saturday against Mt. Vernon.

After winning 48-44 over St. Joseph Benton in a Class 4 semifinal game Friday at JQH Arena in Springfield, Hunziker said at this time of the year it’s all about survive and advance. 

“It was ugly but it was a win,” Hunziker said smiling. “You could tell we were a step slow tonight. I don’t know if it was the floor or the atmosphere, but there towards the end I thought we got some good possessions defensively, where we forced them to turn it over and throw it out of bounds.”

Fortunately for Boonville, they were good enough at the end to preserve the win and move on to the title game.

The Lady Pirates, 26-2, will take on Mt. Vernon 28-3, for the Class 4 championship on Saturday, starting at 4 p.m.

The Mountaineers won 78-55 over Vashon in the first Class 4 semifinal game on Friday.

Saturday’s game will mark Boonville’s first-ever championship appearance for the girl’s program. The Lady Pirates finished third in both 2015 and 1978.

Boonville junior Addi Brownfield, who knocked down several free throws late to ice the game, said it was ugly but her teammates pulled it off.

Brownfield finished the game with 14 points but was 7 of 10 from the foul line.

Brownfield said Benton is an amazing team.

“Their defense was great, but I think playing on this court was new to us," Brownfield said. "This was also a crazy atmosphere, so I think we had to adjust to that and get our nerves out the first half. And then coming out in the second half, I think we were ready to keep pushing. We knew they were going to make a run on us, but we kept our heads and kept working and we came out on top. That's all that matters.”

That’s all that mattered Friday, but it sure would have been nice to win by double digits rather than pull out the win in the final minute.

However, after airballing several shots in the first quarter, the Lady Pirates settled down long enough to grab a 12-10 lead against Benton after one.

As for the second quarter, let’s just say that both teams struggled and be done with it. The good news is that Boonville outscored Benton 9-4 in the second period to lead 21-14 at the break.

Senior Kennedy Renfrow also picked up where she left off in the final seconds of the first half last weekend against Westminster Christian Academy by burying another three-pointer at the buzzer.

Like that game, where it gave Boonville a little momentum, the Lady Pirates led Benton by seven in a so-so first half.

Boonville finished the first half, hitting just 8 of 26 shots from the field for 30.8 percent. Of course Benton also struggled while making just five field goals out of 20 attempts for 25 percent.

Hunziker said his team struggled shooting the ball because Benton does such a great job on helpside defense and they just form walls.

If the Lady Pirates hit the wall in the first half, imagine how they felt in the third quarter with a lid on the basket. Benton, meanwhile, came out and reeled off six straight to cut the lead to one at 21-20 with 5:42 left, and then took a three point lead at 29-26 after a basket by Jaida Cox.

Boonville’s first basket of the second half came with 25 seconds left to cut the lead to 29-28. However, the free throw line proved to be the Lady Pirates best friend as they were 5 of 6 for the first five and a half minutes.

Benton outscored Boonville 18-9 in the third  and took a 32-30 lead with one quarter remaining.

The Cardinals also opened the final period with a three-point play to go up 35-30-its biggest lead of the ballgame.

But much like the third quarter, the free throw line was Boonville’s best friend-especially late. 

The Lady Pirates’ defense also rose to the occasion in the fourth as Benton turned it over at crucial times. Meanwhile, after playing to three ties at 35-35, 40-40 and 42-all, Boonville seized the lead for good with a basket by Brownfield and a free throw by Kourtney Kendrick to go up by three at 45-42.

The Lady Pirates never trailed after that as Brownfield came back and sank 3 of 4 free throws in the final 11 seconds to preserve the win.

Senior Jodie Bass, who led all scorers for Boonville with 18 points on 7 of 17 shooting from the field, said she knew all along that they were going to win the game.

“When coach called timeout I knew right then that we were going to get it together,” Bass said. “I have dreamed of this since I was a little girl. It's our senior year, mind and three other girls, and now we just have to go out there and give it all we've got because this is our last game whether we like it or not.”

In addition to leading the team in scoring with 18, Bass also had five steals in the game. Brownfield finished with 14 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists, while Kennedy Renfrow added five points and four steals, Kourtney Kendrick five points, three steals and two assists, Emma West four points, three rebounds, one assist and one steal and Brooke Eichelberger with one point, four rebounds and two steals.

For Benton, Kianna Herrera was the only player in double figures with 18 points. Lauren Burright and Jaida Cox each had eight.