By Brock Sisney (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
MONETT — The Carl Junction Lady Bulldogs used a steady succession of scoring runs to earn their fifth consecutive district title with a commanding 72-32 victory Friday night over arch rival Webb City in the Class 4, District 12 championship game.
Carl Junction led Webb City 13-2 late in the first quarter and then the Lady Cardinals hit Carl Junction right back with a 9-0 run of their own starting late in the first and continuing early in the second.
The Lady Bulldogs, however, composed themselves and built a 39-16 halftime lead by outscoring the Lady Cardinals 26-5 after that 13-11 score in the second.
Carl Junction kept its foot on the accelerator in the third quarter and the game entered and stayed in running clock mode throughout the fourth.
“One of our goals is to win a district championship,” Carl Junction head coach Brad Shorter said. “This is a special group of seniors that has been a part of four. It never gets old, never gets old.
“I thought we turned it over a little too much early. We just couldn’t get settled in. We were trying to go a little fast, putting some of our teammates in jail with some bad passing and we weren’t rebounding well. Webb’s a very good team. They’re athletic and move down the floor well. Once we got settled in, we played better defense and got our hands up, and created some turnovers to get some easy looks. We pushed the ball down the floor, even with a broken floor at times in our favor, and that’s when we increased that lead.”
Earlier on Friday, Gatorade named Carl Junction senior post Katie Scott its Player of the Year for girls basketball in the state of Missouri. In her first 24 games this season, Scott averaged 21.9 points, 11.7 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 3.3 steals and 2.8 blocks. She’s the first Carl Junction player to win the award. Scott has signed with NCAA Division II powerhouse Drury (30-0 this season entering their game Saturday and ranked No. 1 in the nation in the latest coaches poll).
“It means a lot for our community,” Shorter said. “That’s impressive. We couldn’t ask for a better person to represent our community like that. Katie is a terrific young lady. Great character, great in the classroom, great off the court and on the court. Well-deserved. She’s put a lot of work in and what a lot of people don’t see is how many times she’s in the gym working on her game or working at home studying and doing well in the classroom. Very excited for her.
“We’re pleased. We thought she had a chance of getting it. It’s great for our program and it shows that things like that can happen here in Southwest Missouri to kids when you put the work in. For all those little girls out here, there’s that opportunity. It’s neat to get that national recognition.”
In the game Friday night, Scott finished with a double-double of 26 points and 12 rebounds.
“She’s an amazing player,” Shorter said. “There were probably 10 points or so out there that she could have had too. She’ll share the ball, she scores it, she rebounds it … she’s quite the basketball player. One thing that I love late is how she’s leading her team. With the other seniors, she’s communicating and they’re all talking and working together. We need that at this time of the year.”
Scott and fellow seniors Dani Wrensch, Ashley Stokes, Shila Winder, Taylor Hughes and Taylor Storm never lost a district tournament game during their entire high school career.
Winder and freshman Destiny Buerge each contributed 13 points and combined to match Scott’s total, while Hughes and Storm combined for 13 more points (Hughes seven, Storm six). Storm banked in a pair of 3-point baskets and when that happens, a team knows for sure that it’s their night. Jessa Hylton and Wrensch rounded out the scoring with four and three points, respectively.
Carl Junction outscored Webb City 45-16 in the middle quarters
A quartet of Webb City players — Kate Brownfield, Keira Jackson, Jaydee Duda and Sierra Kimbrough — each netted six points and Raven Vaughn added five. The Lady Cardinals finished their season 13-13 overall.
Carl Junction improved to 26-0 overall and the Lady Bulldogs will take on 27-1 overall West Plains in a sectional contest that could be a classic barn burner Tuesday at Nixa. Carl Junction and West Plains last faced each other at sectionals in 2017 and the Lady Bulldogs advanced past the Zizzers 43-33 en route to the Final Four.
West Plains and Carl Junction came in at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in Class 4 in the latest Missouri Basketball Coaches Association rankings.
CARL JUNCTION 72, WEBB CITY 32
WC 7 9 7 9 — 32
CJ 13 26 19 14 — 72
WEBB CITY (13-13) — Kate Brownfield 6, Keira Jackson 6, Jaydee Duda 6, Sierra Kimbrough 6, Raven Vaughn 5, Peyton Hawkins 2, Kajah Jackson 1.
CARL JUNCTION (26-0) — Katie Scott 26, Shila Winder 13, Destiny Buerge 13, Taylor Hughes 7, Taylor Storm 6, Jessa Hylton 4, Dani Wrensch 3.