By Amanda Perkins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The Eminence Lady Redwings claimed the Class 1, District 3 title on Saturday with a 60-49 victory over the Koshkonong Lady Blue Jays.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of a few of these, and there’s nothing like winning a district,” said Eminence head coach Jimbo Blackwell.
This was the second meeting of the teams this season; Koshkonong topped Eminence by 15 points in the Mountain Grove Holiday Tournament.
In district play, the Lady Jays and Lady Redwings went back and forth in the first quarter, trading blows as Marisa Hunsperger and Sydney Williams each connected from downtown. With one minute to play, Peyton Shelton hit a three for Eminence, then Hunsperger closed the quarter with a bucket for Kosh. The Lady Redwings led 19-16.
Eminence quickly extended their lead to seven points with another three from Williams and a free throw by Tristan Weaver. The tandem added 11 total points in the frame. Brynne Spurgin helped advance the Redwings’ lead with a three, but Britney Russell connected on her own deep shot for the Lady Jays. Tyra Gee closed the frame on a high note for Koshkonong with her and-one, but the team trailed 35-26 at the half.
Kosh’s Megan Maffei hit a three in the top of the third, but Williams answered from downtown again. Weaver scored to advance Eminence’s lead to 18 points, and the Lady Jays added two buckets and a free throw to control scoring in the bottom of the frame.
The Lady Jays outscored Eminence by two in the fourth thanks in part to the play of Megan Maffei, who held seven of the team’s 13 points in the quarter.
“I thought we defended and rebounded really well all night, and I really think that was the difference,” said Coach Blackwell. “We went zone there some in the first quarter, then we decided we would get in our man defense- that’s what we do – and in the second quarter I thought we guarded and defended as well as we have all year.”
“We knew we had the size advantage,” he added, “but they did a really good job on Tristan early and our guards stepped up and it softened things up inside for her.”
Koshkonong head coach Charlie Ballard said his team played hard, just as they do every night.
“I’m really proud of them,” he said. “They’ve done a great job the whole season. We’re really young, several of them are sophomores, and we’ve had a better season than we did last year. Hats off to Eminence, they are a really good team and well-coached and hard to defend. Their guards and tall posts are hard to guard, and they did an excellent job.”
“I can’t complain about my girls,” he said. “They are the kind that practice hard, they are the group of kids who really want to do awesome at whatever they are doing, but came up a little short tonight. We do have something to build on and I look forward to working with them more.”
The Lady Jays close their season with 16 wins.
Eminence will take on the Walnut Grove Lady Tigers February 26 at Mountain Grove at 7:45 pm.
“I saw Walnut Grove play last night and obviously we have our work cut out for us,” said Coach Blackwell. “We will try to prepare and get ready and let the chips fall where they may. We will celebrate this one today.”
Scoring for Koshkonong: Megan Maffei, 19; Brittney Russell, 9; Marisa Hunsperger, 7; Lorna Howell, 5; Tyra Gee, 3; Callie Sturgeon, 2; Jade Bell, 2.
Scoring for Eminence: Sydney Williams, 18; Tristan Weaver, 15; Peyton Shelton, 12; Brynne Spurgin, 9; Savannah Victor, 4; Megan Byerly, 2.