It’s Kickapoo vs. Branson in Thursday night’s Class 5 District 11 girls’ title game, set for 6 p.m. at Hammons Student Center in Springfield. Here’s a recap of their semifinal victories from Monday night.
Branson shows grit in victory over Ozark
By John Miller/For OzarksSportsZone.com
All season long, the Branson Lady Pirates have felt underrated. On Thursday night, they’ll get a chance to prove everybody wrong.
The two-seed Lady Pirates came from eight points down in the third quarter to beat three-seed Ozark 52-50 in the Class 5 District 11 semifinals on Monday night at Hammons Student Center.
Branson (23-4) will now draw the reigning Class 5 champion Kickapoo Lady Chiefs in a 6 p.m. championship game on Thursday.
“This is probably the most competitive team I’ve had,” Branson coach Kip Bough said. “When they get down, they don’t quit. They know what time it is. There’s just no quit in them.”
Terra Utz-Depriest had 19 points and 11 points to lead Branson, while Amanda Kearney had 18 points. Mikayla Putt led Ozark with 18 points.
Branson trailed 36-28 with three minutes remaining in the third and then kicked its defense into high gear. They forced 15 turnovers in the game, including five on Ozark’s first five possessions of the fourth quarter.
“We got down and played with grit,” Branson junior Gracie Jaeger said. “We’re a defensive team.”
Not only did the Lady Pirates’ defense force turnovers, but it stifled Ozark’s shots at the rim. After making 15 of its first 35 shots, the Lady Tigers finished only 3 of 9 shots in the fourth-quarter.
“At the half, we told them we had to turn up the pressure,” Bough said. “We were asking a lot of Gracie and Karis (Goodwin) to turn up the pressure and get to a high-post move.”
Aside from falling behind 3-0 out of the gate, Ozark (16-9) palyed from in front of Tuesday until the fourth quarter. Branson started the quarter with an 8-0 run, taking its first lead of the half on a bucket by Kearney with 5:18 remaining. Their lead swelled to 48-43 after Utz-Depriest made a pair of free throws four minutes later.
Bri Johnson canned a 3-pointer, pulling Ozark within two points, but the Lady Tigers would get no closer.
“I’m disappointed to lose this game, “ Ozark coach David Brewer said. “ … We built on last year. I’m extremely proud of them, but disappointment rides in my heart right now. … When it’s over, it’s over, and you begin talking about your relationships and how much you appreciate them, and I do. I care an awful lot about each one of them.”
Branson now gets a crack at a district title, but will have to get past Kickapoo to win the championship.
“Personally, I think we were one of the better teams in the area and I think we were overlooked,” Bough said. “I’m not saying we will beat Kickapoo … but we’ve been overlooked in a lot of things. … (Thursday) is just another opportunity for us to go our and give the perfect effort. … This is our third district final, third against Kickapoo. You’d hope the odds are in your favor a little bit, but they are an awfully good team.”
Ozark 12 12 17 9 50
Branson 5 17 14 16 52
Ozark: Mikayla Putt 18, Macey Putt 11, Madi Braden 6, Bri Johnson 5, Brooke Pace 4, Annie Scheer 3, Morgan Doyle 3
Branson: Terra Utz-Depriest 19, Amanda Kearney 18, Lauren Garrison 12, Gracie Jaeger 3
Kickapoo puts away Parkview early
The Kickapoo Lady Chiefs defeated Parkview 74-36 in the first of four games in the Class 5 District 11 (boys-girls) semifinals at Hammons Student Center on Monday night.
Kickapoo led 26-5 after the first quarter and 42-16 at halftime. Kickapoo jumped out to 31-point lead (36-5) midway through the second quarter. Kickapoo’s Jordan Wersinger led all players with 26 points. Jordan Sanders scored 18 and Hannah Collins added 12 points. Ty Stiles had 14 points and Paiton Acord scored 13 for Parkview.