By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Blue Eye technically finished third at state a year ago.
However, with the COVID-19 pandemic just unfolding, no 3rd place game actually happened. The Lady Bulldogs tied with Oran for third.
This year, the Lady Bulldogs wanted to earn their finish and cap the season with a win.
Blue Eye accomplished that, defeating Scotland County 59-52 in the Class 2 Show-Me Showdown 3rd place game at Hammons Student Center.
Blue Eye junior guard Avery Arnold scored a game-high 19. Riley Arnold added 13 points, while Kyla Warren had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Blue Eye showed little hangover from Thursday’s semifinals loss to Ellington.
Other than a 2-0 Scotland County lead, Blue Eye never trailed.
The Lady Bulldogs built an early 14-point lead and withstood multiple Scotland County runs throughout the game.
Blue Eye finally put it away late in the fourth quarter. Avery Arnold’s 3-pointer with 2:58 left put the Lady Bulldogs ahead 55-47.
Blue Eye struggled with free throws most of the game, finishing just 15-for-28 at the free throw line.
The Lady Bulldogs overcame their free throw struggles with an opportunistic defense. Scotland County finished with 24 turnovers.
Like Thursday’s semifinal loss to Ellington, Blue Eye took a big lead early. Riley Arnold’s 3-pointer put Blue Eye ahead 20-6 late in the first quarter.
Scotland County came to life soon thereafter. Emiley Dial had a pair of 3-pointers that ignited a Scotland County run. Dial went 3-for-3 on 3-point attempts in the first half and finished with a team-high 15 points.
Blue Eye took a 33-31 lead into halftime. Riley Arnold scored 11 of her 19 in the first half.
Blue Eye’s pressure defense forced Scotland County into 14 first-half turnovers.
Blue Eye, which graduates just one senior in Kara Spinning, figures to be in contention for a third straight final four next season.
Blue Eye coach Ken Elfrink said it’s the first time in his long tenure that the Lady Bulldogs will return their full starting lineup and top reserve.
“It’s exciting but you never know,” said Blue Eye coach Ken Elfrink. “You don’t know what’ll happen. But the future is bright. We’re excited.”
Blue Eye 59, Scotland County 52
Scotland County 14 17 12 9 — 52
Blue Eye 22 11 12 14 — 59
Scotland County (22-7 overall) – Emiley Dial 15, Kylee Stott 11, Alaynna Whitaker 11, Hannah Feeney 6, Aayla Humphrey 3, Abby Doster 2, Kilee Bradley-Robinson 2, Morgan Blessing 2
Blue Eye (25-6 overall) – Avery Arnold 19, Kyla Warren 14, Riley Arnold 13, Gracyn Fairchild 7, Makayla Johnson 5, Samantha George 1