The No. 1-ranked Walnut Grove Lady Tigers took their first step down the familiar path through post-season play by the third-ranked Dadeville Lady Bearcats 64-26 in the Class 1, District 5 Championship at Willard Saturday evening.
CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS
From the opening tip, the Lady Tigers displayed the dominance that has earned them the top ranking in the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association/MOSports.com poll. Walnut Grove applied heavy pressure on defense and controlled the boards. By the end of the quarter, they held a 21-6 lead.
Lady Tiger cousins Lexi and Heather Harman, both juniors, each had five points in the quarter.
Walnut Grove continued to apply pressure on defense, limiting Dadeville to just five points while forcing nine first-half turnovers. The Lady Tigers were also hitting their shots, going 8-for-10 on 2-pointers and 4-for-8 from three. Walnut Grove Junior Madi Freeze capped off the half with a three-point basket pushing the score to 33-11. Freeze hit all four of her three-point attempts in the game.
“We came into the game knowing they could beat us,” said Lady Tigers guard Heather Harman. “Coach always talks about defense carrying trough our games and I know it really carried us through this game for sure. We played well on defense and executed on offense. Everybody showed up.”
Harman scored 14 points and collected 13 rebounds in the game. Three other Lady Tigers scored double digits: Lexi Harman had 15, Freeze had 13 and Audrey Crain had 12.
Mary Bergmann led the Lady Bearcats in scoring with 11 points.
“We just didn’t have it today,” said Dadeville head coach James Cowan. “I think the moment got to us. We have a good team and we just didn’t play well today on both ends of the floor.”
Dadeville finished the season with a record of 24-3. They lose six players to graduation and all five starters.
Lady Tigers head Coach Rory Henry was pleased with the effort displayed by his players.
“We’ve talked all year to our kids about defense and it’s been a constant all year,” said Henry. “We’ve held teams down, good teams, and that was a very good team we held to 26 points.”
The 2012 season ended in Columbia for Walnut Grove with a second place finish, losing by just one point.
”We have unfinished business to take care of. Everybody’s really excited for a chance to get back,” said Heather Harman.
Walnut Grove improves to 26-2 on the season. They will play District 6 Champion St. Elizabeth at 7:45 in Bolivar at Southwest Baptist University on Tuesday.
Walnut Grove 21 12 18 13 64
Dadeville 6 5 9 6 26