Lady Pirates win first-ever state title with 58-52 win over Mt. Vernon

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News
Members of the Boonville girls basketball team celebrate the first state title in program history Saturday at JQH Arena in Springfield.
Members of the Boonville girls basketball team hoist the trophy after beating Mt. Vernon 58-52 in the Class 4 state championship game Saturday at JQH Arena in Springfield.
The Boonville Lady Pirates basketball team captured its first-ever state title in program history Saturday by beating Mt. Vernon 58-52 at JQH Arena in Springfield. The Lady Pirates closed out the season at 27-2 overall.

After the hugs, high fives and hand shakes Saturday after winning its first-ever state title in Boonville Lady Pirates basketball history by beating Mt. Vernon 58-52, head coach Jaryt Hunziker could only think of the players, community and student body for their support.

While finishing the season at 27-2 overall, the Lady Pirates also became only the third team in program history to move on to the Final Four. Boonville teams did it in 1978 and 2015 with both teams finishing third.

Hunziker said the 2021 team is just like the 2015 team in that they were real close.

 “They’re linked together,” Hunziker said. “When you make the Final Four, you’re linked together for life, and now even more so when you’re a state champion. We’re going to enjoy it, but in the locker room we have a sign that says, “Leave a Legacy” up there and I think this group of girls have definitely left their legacy.”

With only two losses on the season, a 56-54 loss to Hallsville and a 44-41 setback against Skyline, Boonville wound up closing out the season on a 14 game win streak. 

Boonville junior Addi Brownfield, who had 15 points on Friday against Benton and 19 against Mt. Vernon, said winning a state championship has been a dream of hers since she was 10 years old. “This doesn’t feel real,” Brownfield said. “This is like an amazing dream that I hope I never wake up from. Going from the past two years, where we end up losing heartbreaking games in districts, I think not getting this far was kind of bothering me in the back of my mind. But there was just something different about this year-like all of us where so hungry to get to this point, and I think we proved that tonight.”

Of course it didn’t come easy. In the second Class 4 semifinal game on Friday, the Lady Pirates had to rally from five down in the final period to beat a good Benton team 48-44. Meanwhile, in the championship game on Saturday, Boonville led by as much as 22 in the third quarter only to see Mt. Vernon cut it back to four in the fourth period.

Senior Kourtney Kendrick, who had 17 points in the game against Mt. Vernon, said it wasn’t working out the way they wanted in the second half. The Mountaineers outscored Boonville 33-25 in the second half after being outscored 33-19 in the first  half. “”We knew this was going to be it and that we had to fight and get back in it and win it,” Kendrick said. “I was nervous that the calls weren’t going our way, but I just had this feeling deep down inside, like, it was going to be ours. Then, as the seconds were ticking down, I was like oh, my gosh, we’re going to be state champs. I’ll never be able to describe it. I had goosebumps and I looked over at Jodie (Bass), who I have been playing with since I was a little kid and I was just like, it was all destiny.”

Senior Kennedy Renfrow said it’s a great feeling. Renfrow tallied eight points and seven rebounds against Mt. Vernon. “State champs is amazing, but to be the first team to ever do it and my best friends being alongside of me, that is a great feeling that I will never get over," Renfrow said. "It feels amazing to have all the little middle school girls here because that was us watching the 2015 team go and now it’s almost like a tradition thing and maybe they’ll get to go when they are in high school, too.”

Crazy is the word senior Jodie Bass used to describe the feeling after winning the state title. “I’m kind of speechless right now,” Bass said. “This is something we’ve worked for, and it’s crazy getting to the Final Four. Now we’re state champs. I started to get the feeling that this was really going to happen with 40 seconds left in the game and we started hugging each other, but coach Hunziker told us to quit hugging each other because we hadn’t won it yet. But with a couple of seconds left, we knew.”

With a record of 198-49 at Boonville, Hunziker said he always felt like this team had a chance to make a nice run but pointed to all the great teams the Lady Pirates had to get past to reach the Final Four such as Southern Boone, Macon, Westminster Christian Academy, Benton and Mt. Vernon.

“When we beat Westminster at home, I was like ok, we’re good,” Hunziker said. “And then I thought, we have a shot to win this thing. It all started with the four seniors and that sense of urgency that if they don’t play well-it’s the end of their season and careers, so it just seemed like everybody played for each other. In the locker room we have a sign that reads, “Leave a Legacy” on the white board, and they definitely left their legacy.”