By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
BOLIVAR – The Carl Junction Lady Bulldogs are heading back to the Class 4 final four after a 64-48 quarterfinal victory over the Sullivan Lady Eagles on Saturday afternoon.
In front of a small, but loud crowd of about 150 in the Meyer Wellness and Sports Center on the Southwest Baptist University campus, the Lady Bulldogs fought their way to a nine-point lead (28-19) going into halftime.
Senior star and Drury University signee Katie Scott picked up her second foul with 3:49 to go in the second quarter, but Carl Junction didn’t miss a beat. The Lady Bulldogs, who remained undefeated at 28-0, scored 11 points to close out the quarter, with freshman Destiny Buerge leading the charge.
“I just I knew we had to play good,” Buerge said. “And, if I had to bring them up, or if we were going to get down, then someone has to have energy to get everyone else up. We just needed to score and play together.
“Sometimes, that’s going to happen (Scott going out), and someone has to do it. We have to keep going and no matter if she’s out or if she’s in. Even with Shyla (Winder), sometimes we get down when she gets out and we have to keep playing like they’re not there the whole time.”
Carl Junction used an 11-0 run in the third quarter to create some distance and a 17-point lead (39-22). But, with 4:54 to go in the third, Scott picked up her third foul – it didn’t seem to matter.
“Earlier in the year, Katie was sick when we went down in Springdale, and we played without her,” Carl Junction coach Brad Shorter said of his Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year. “And, for a number of years, she’s been on the floor quite a bit, and we knew, I knew, we could do it with her on the bench, just being able to sustain or even get a bigger lead.
“I thought some kids stepped up and did a great job. It’s a part of just playing that team ball. And that’s what we’ve been about all year.”
Buerge scored a team-high 23 points to send the Lady Bulldogs back to the Class 4 semifinals for a rematch with Incarnate Word Academy, the team they lost to in the 2018 state championship game.
“We’ve talked about it,” Shorter said. “Our seniors have talked about this, and they’ve been fortunate to be able to go three times in four years. It’s special for this group, and it’s always tough; you’ve got to have a little luck. But our kids stayed with it, and I’m very proud.
“In order to be the best, you got to beat the best. We’ve talked about our journey all year long. And the tougher the journey, the sweeter the prize at the end, so it’s going to be a treat. We’re excited about it.”
For Buerge, she was in the seventh grade the last time the Lady Bulldogs were in the final four.
“It’s a great feeling we’ve gotten this far,” Buerge said “It’s crazy. I never thought I’d be here with all of them.”
Sullivan (25-3) was led by Mallory Shetley and her 27 points. She will be playing at Columbia College next year.
“She’s just a special player that you don’t get very often,” Sullivan coach Jordan Flora said. “The work ethic she has, the time she puts in is something special. We’re gonna miss her, but we have six seniors we’re going to miss them all. They’ve all had a huge part of the season, and it’s taken them all to accomplish what we want.”
CLASS 4 QUARTERFINALS
CARL JUNCTION 64, SULLIVAN 48
CARL JUNCTION 14-14-15-21—64
SULLIVAN (25-3) – Kya Harbour 6, Mallory Sheltly 27, Rylee Denbow 7, Hanna Johanning 6, Porscha Polanowski 2.
CARL JUNCTION (28-0) – Katie Scott 14, Dani Wrensch 5, Shila Winder 6, Taylor Hughes 8, Destiny Buerge 23, Jessa Hylton 5, Ashley Stokes 3.
Up next: Class 4 semifinal – Carl Junction vs. Incarnate Word Academy, 2:45 p.m. Thursday at JQH Arena, Missouri State University, Springfield