Fair Grove beats Skyline to advance to first state title game


By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

The Fair Grove Lady Eagles have already made history.

But, they plan to be a little more greedy come Saturday.

Fair Grove showed it had championship aspirations in Friday night’s Class 3 girls’ Show-Me Showdown semifinals versus conference foe Skyline. The Lady Eagles, behind a big second quarter, cruised to a 61-42 victory at Great Southern Bank Arena in Springfield.

“We knew we had something special,” said Fair Grove coach Jenny Talbert. “Last year, I felt like we made some pretty big strides. This year, we knew we had a good opportunity in front of us.

“I can’t think of 10 other girls I’d rather be on the court with. Really proud of this group.”

The win puts Fair Grove in an unprecedented spot.

According to MSHSAA’s records, no Fair Grove team – boys or girls – has ever made it to a state championship game.

Until now.

“I’ve grown up watching Fair Grove teams my whole life,” said Lady Eagles sophomore Ashton Bell, who scored a game-high 23 on Friday night. “Getting in this position is just crazy to me.”

Fair Grove (27-4 overall) will play El Dorado Springs (26-5 overall) at 4 p.m. Saturday at Great Southern Bank Arena in the Class 3 girls’ state championship game.

The teams played about a month ago, with Fair Grove winning 61-58 on El Dorado Springs’ home court.

El Dorado Springs comes in as the defending Class 3 state champion. The Lady Bulldogs crushed West County 52-29 in Friday’s other semifinal.

“We’re very familiar with them,” Talbert said. “They play similar to how Skyline does. We know we’ll have to bring it because they’re really talented.”

Making its first final four appearance in 14 years, Fair Grove didn’t show any big-stage jitters against a Skyline program that’s made eight final fours in the last 11 years.

The Lady Eagles outscored Skyline 20-7 in the decisive second quarter.

“Being here, this atmosphere is crazy,” said Fair Grove sophomore Brooke Daniels. “Playing in this gym, it’s a whole different world compared to our little small-town gym.”


Said Talbert: “These girls might get nervous, but they don’t really show it. They just play harder. That’s how they deal with nerves: They just go out and do their job.”

Sophomore Kenzi Cheek led Skyline with 15 points. Emily Edwards added 12 points. The Lady Tigers shot just 12-for-44 from the field.

Fair Grove out-rebounded Skyline 37-23.

“We had a hard time getting stops,” said Skyline coach Kevin Cheek. “And we also had a hard time getting to the basket. We missed shots and they did a great job of boxing out, so we didn’t get many second chances.”

The victory gave Fair Grove a measure of revenge after Skyline beat the Lady Eagles 49-46 on Feb. 2. Fair Grove bounced back with the win over El Dorado Springs and hasn’t lost since.

“We focused on rebounding and defense after losing to Skyline, because we knew that’s where we struggled,” said Fair Grove’s lone senior, Kameron Green, who scored 11. “We hit the shots today we needed to today and proved we were the better team.”

Friday’s meeting was the rubber match of the Fair Grove-Skyline season series. Fair Grove beat the Lady Tigers 53-34 in the championship game of the Skyline Invitational on Jan. 13.

Skyline (23-6 overall) will look to finish its season with a win on Saturday. The Lady Tigers play West County at noon at Hammons Student Center in the third-place game.

Friday’s loss snapped an 11-game winning streak for Skyline.

“There was a point in January where we didn’t know if we could make this happen,” Coach Cheek said. “We made a commitment to go back to work and do things the right way. We finally got it together. For this group to make it to the final four, that’s pretty special to make it here.”

Fair Grove 61, Skyline 42
Fair Grove 11 20 18 12 — 61
Skyline 7 7 15 13 — 42

Fair Grove (26-4 overall) – Ashton Bell 23, Abbey Green 12, Kameron Green 11, Brooke Daniels 6, Camdyn Hart 5, Emma Padgett 2, Allison Findley 2
Skyline (23-6 overall) – Kenzi Cheek 15, Emily Edwards 12, Sadie Redd 8, Ashlen Garrett 5, Jayln Barb 2

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