Columbia, Mo. (Ozarks Sports Zone) -- Coming into Thursday’s Class 2 semifinal game against New Franklin there was no secret what the reigning Class 2 state champion Crane Lady Pirates wanted to defensively.
Speed you up and turn you over.
“It’s huge, we talk about it all the time,” said Crane head coach Jeremy Mullins. “We like our pressure to lead to offense and I thought that was a key for us tonight. We thrive on that; we love to run.”
Crane did just that, forcing 28 New Franklin turnovers, leading to a 57-27 win, pushing Crane back to the Class 2 state championship game.
Just three minutes and 41 seconds into the first quarter Crane led 14-2, forcing six Bulldog turnovers that led to 10 Emma Lander points.
The sophomore forward would finish with a double-double, scoring a game-high 23 points to go with her 13 rebounds.
In the second quarter Crane used its depth to continue widening the gap, bringing in fresh bodies to maintain the full court pressure.
The pace of the first half never allowed New Franklin senior Jasmyne Boggs to get going.
The 6-foot-1 senior came in averaging a double-double with 11 points and 10.7 rebounds a night.
“We knew they were big and knew we had to concentrate on boxing out and rebounding,” said Mullins. “But we also know that they didn’t play a whole bunch of kids, so we wanted to get up and down. If the big girl isn’t in the lane it is hard for her to get a rebound.”
Boggs would nearly finish with a triple-double, scoring 10 points to go along with her nine rebounds and nine blocks, but most of that would come with the game already decided.
Lexie Vaught joined Lander in double figures, scoring 13 points, including going 3-for-7 from behind the 3-point arc.
Crane’s win sets up an All-Ozarks championship game, as they will play Skyline, a 37-32 winner over New Haven.
The Lady Pirates beat Skyline 70-51 last year in the semifinals.
Even with that familiarity, Mullins says his team won’t change what they do.
“We won’t change our approach; we will do what we’ve done all year that got us to this point,” said Mullins. We can’t do anything special or different at this point, so we’ll just do what we do and try to do it well.”
Saturday’s game also presents Crane seniors Riley Isreal, Allie Hagler, and Addie Reel the opportunity to go out with back-to-back state championships; something that has never been done in school history.
“It’s nice getting back to the state championship game,” said Isreal. “There isn’t a better way to end your career than with a state championship and that’s what we we’re going for.”
Crane 57, New Franklin 27 New Franklin – 6-7-9-5 – 27 Crane – 16-24-5-12 – 57 New Franklin: J. Boggs 10, A. Hundley 9, M. Lyons 4, D. Dodson 2, S. Montgomery 1, A. Himmelberg 1. Crane: E. Lander 23, L. Vaught 13, R. Isreal 8, A. Hagler 5, J. Johnson 4, K. Vaught 2, A. Reel 2.
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