You can call them young.
You can even say they didn’t deserve to be in the Final Four.
Either way, you have to call them the 2013 Class 2 Ctate Champions.
The Crane Lady Pirates used a furious fourth quarter rally to top defending state runner-up New Haven 55-45 in Saturday’s state championship game at Mizzou Arena.
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The state title marks the first in program history for Crane, and is made even sweeter by Lady Pirates’ coach, Jeremy Mullins, being a Crane alum.
“Unbelievable. I can hold my head high and know that even though my high school career wasn’t very successful as a player, so this is how I get to stay close to the game. We’ve turned it around and it’s heading in the right direction,” said Mullins.
For the Lady Pirates, who have been accustomed to fourth quarter lulls over the past couple of weeks, it was a fourth quarter rally that led to the win.
Crane trailed 38-37 entering the fourth quarter that lead would grow to 39-37 after a New Haven’s Rachel Steinhoff free throw. The Lady Pirates would then rip off a 15-3 run, holding New Haven without a field goal for more than five minutes of game.
Lone senior Maggie McMenamy scored nine of her team-high 13 points in the quarter, sparking that run with an “And-1” drive and a baseline jumper.
“Maggie is the leader of our team. She means everything to us, and we look up to her. She is our main scorer, and our senior,” said Crane guard Allie Hagler.
During the fourth quarter the Shamrocks, who played just seven players in the game, were overmatched by the depth of Crane.
“We just ran out of gas. They came at us with lots of girls and they all guarded well. They prevented our other players except for Rachel from getting a good look at the basket. By the fourth quarter we were dead tired and didn’t have any legs. It takes a toll on seven girls for 32 minutes when you don’t have any fresh legs to run in.,” said New Haven coach Doug Perick.
The Lady Pirates got out of the gate quickly, as they did against Skyline in the semifinals, scoring nine of the game’s first 13 points. An Addison Reel layup before the first quarter buzzer gave Crane a 13-10 lead heading into the second.
The second quarter would see the Shamrocks battle back, taking a 16-15 lead, their first of the game, on Emily Kallmeyer’s layup. But Crane would again battle back late in the quarter taking a 26-24 lead into the half after a pair of late Riley Israel buckets.
However, the third quarter would see New Haven outscore Crane 14-11 to take a 38-37 lead into the fourth. Junior guard Rachel Steinhoff scored 10 of the Shamrock’s 14 points in the quarter on relentless drives to the rim.
“She’s a tremendous player. We ran a few different players at her. She can get to the rim whenever she wants and she makes a lot of good things happen for them. And, she has another year left to develop,” said Mullins.
Steinhoff would finish with a game-high 26 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the field, but it goes for not as the Shamrocks finish as the Class 2 Runner-Up for the second year in a row.
The Lady Pirates bring home the second state championship to Crane in the last two years as the Crane boys took home the Class 2 title in 2011 under Rob Guerin.Those guys now have some company atop the city’s hierarchy.
“We got so much crap from the boys, saying that we would never make it here, and that we needed to bow down to them and kiss their rings. Now we get to do the same thing,” said Hagler.
Crane, who returns everyone except McMenamy, will have to battle expectations and stagnancy heading into next year.
“This is my first one, so we’ll have to see how it goes and be creative. That ring and that trophy should keep them hungry. We’ll have a couple weeks off, and then we’re getting in the weight room. That should be some motivation in itself just seeing that trophy and that banner. It’s a big target to carry around,” said Mullins.
Crane 13-13-11-18 – 55
New Haven 10-14-14-7 – 45
Crane: Hagler 9, L. Vaught 3, Isreal 12, Lander 10, McMenamy 13, Reel 4, Johnson 2, Mahan 2.
New Haven: Kallmeyer 4, Gerling 2, Monzyk 2, Steinhoff 26, Shockley 6, Scheer 3, Meyer 2.