Lady Pirates make history with 58-52 win over Mt. Vernon in state championship game
The Boonville Lady Pirates basketball team made history in more ways than one Saturday at the Final Four at JQH Arena in Springfield.
While playing in its first-ever state championship game, Boonville also set the bar for future Lady Pirates basketball teams by capturing its first state title by beating Mt. Vernon 58-52.
The Lady Pirates closed out the season at 27-2 overall, winning their last 14 games. Mt. Vernon finished the season at 28-4 overall.
Boonville girls basketball coach Jaryt Hunziker said it all it started with the defense on Saturday and containing their star players and making it hard for them to get some shots off and drive. “We tried to keep them off the free-throw line as much as we could,” Hunziker said. “We knew they were going to make a run because they have great shooters, but what a great feeling. This is for the players who put in the time, the community, the school district and the program. We didn’t even know if we were going to have a season or not, but to end the season with the support we had-it was perfect.”
In a much anticipated game between two great teams, the Lady Pirates may have been slight underdogs against Mt. Vernon-who won against a good Vashon team 78-55 in the first semifinal game on Friday. As for Boonville, they squeaked by Benton in the second Class 4 semifinal game 48-44.
Nonetheless, the game was everything the crowd thought it would be with Mt. Vernon, behind its star player Lacy Stokes, leading Boonville early on 6-3.
But then it kicked in as the Lady Pirates came back and reeled off eight straight to lead Mt. Vernon 11-6 before giving up a late basket to go up by three at 11-8.
While forcing 33 turnovers 24 hours earlier against Benton and averaging 25 turnovers in its last five games, Boonville once again relied on its defense for points in the second quarter. Of course it didn’t hurt that the Lady Pirates hit four threes in the second quarter, or that they outscored Mt. Vernon 22-11 to lead at the half 33-19.
Senior Kourtney Kendrick also had a nice first half with 11 of her 17 points coming after 16 minutes. Stokes, meanwhile, had only eight points in the first half for Mt. Vernon.
Kendrick said the first half Saturday was way better than the first half against Benton. The Lady Pirates led in that game 21-14 at the half, but shot only 31 percent from the field. On Saturday, Boonville led by 14 at the half and shot 46.2 percent.
With just two quarters to play to claim its first state title, the Lady Pirates still maintained control of the game with a double digit lead at 45-32. However, Mt. Vernon held a 13-12 scoring edge in the third period.
Here's the kicker. While leading by as much as 22 points at 43-21 with 4:36 in the third, Boonville couldn’t seem to buy a basket for the next two minutes. Mt. Vernon, meanwhile, went on a 8-0 run to closeout the quarter to cut it back to 13.
To make matters worse, Boonville’s leading scorer for the season-Addi Brownfield-picked up her third foul of the game as time expired in the third period.
Brownfield said she knew Mt. Vernon would make a comeback. “We knew that they were going to make a run because they’re a great team, but we kept our cool, kept pushing and came out on top and that’s all that really matters.”
Brownfield wound up leading all scorers for Boonville with 19 points of 5 of 10 shooting from the field, 1 of 3 from the three-point arc and 8 of 9 from the foul line.
However, if you thought the first-three quarters were tense, imagine how the crowd and players felt in the fourth quarter as Mt. Vernon rallied back to cut it to five at 49-44 with 3:37 left.
While leading by as much as 22 midway through the third quarter, Boonville now led by just five with plenty of time left in the game.
Mt. Vernon’s Kadence Krempges made it even closer by hitting 1 of 2 free throws with 1:41 remaining to make it a four point ball game at 51-47.
The Mountaineers never got any closer as Boonville closed out the game, hitting 6 of 8 free throws for the win.
Although Mt. Vernon would go on to outscore Boonville 33-25 in the second half and 20-13 in the final period, the Lady Pirates would once again pull away late at the foul line. While finishing 18 of 24 from the line for the game for 75 percent, Boonville was 13 of 15 in the final period from the line.
Mt. Vernon was only 9 of 14 from the line for the game for 64.3 percent.
While climbing back from a 22 point deficit to make it a four point game, Stokes said the Mountaineers have always been a second half team. “I think we dug ourselves a hole in the first half and were down 22 in the third,” Stokes was quoted as saying in the Joplin Globe. But we have a lot of heart in us and a lot of fight. We try and do what we need to, but I feel a lot of things didn’t fall for us tonight like they usually do.”
In addition to scoring 19 points, Brownfield also had six assists, three steals and three rebounds in the game.
Kendrick, meanwhile, finished with 17 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Jodie Bass chipped in 11 points, three rebounds and one steal, while Kennedy Renfrow added eight points, seven rebounds and two steals, Emma West three points and one assist and Brooke Eichelberger with eight rebounds and one steal.
For Mt. Vernon, Ellie Johnston finished the game with 21 while Stokes added 14 after finishing with 39 the day before against Vashon.