As the girls’ basketball team made their way onto the court, the pressure was almost overwhelming. With the boys out of the running for state, the next hour would decide the fate of RBHS basketball for the 2016-17 season. With a combination of skill and determination, RBHS won 42-27.
Coach Jill Nagel believes their success is in part due to their concentration on Branson’s strengths and weaknesses.
“We had played them in late December so there was some familiarity, and we also watched a lot of more recent film in them. We had two good days of practice leading up to the game,” Nagel said. “We prepared a lot to go against their 1-3-1 zone defense.”
The Bruins had a strong defense in the first half, only giving up six points in the first quarter and none in the second. The Pirates upped their game in the second half enough to narrow the gap to 11 points in the third quarter, but to no avail. Junior guard Payton McCallister set aside any worries in order to execute the team’s plan.
“Before the game I was very excited, anxious and nervous. This was a big game for us because we all knew we would be heading to state back in Columbia if we won,” McCallister said. “We knew that their point guard was there best player and averaged a lot of points, so if we could limit her, then we would be limiting the team greatly. We as a team executed very well and kept her way under her average.”
Senior guard Elle Brown also decided to just fixate on enjoying the sport instead of stressing out before the tipoff.
“I was a little nervous because this game was so important but once I started thinking about how fun it was to play with my team, it definitely started to calm my nerves,” Brown said. “Payton McCallister had an awesome buzzer beater that led us into the fourth quarter, I believe.”
The team will face Kirkwood Friday night at Mizzou Arena, vying for the state title. Although RBHS has enjoyed such success in past years, Nagel wants as much support as possible during the game.
“I hope [students] will join us Friday at Mizzou Arena to create a home court environment. This is the last year the Final Four will be in Columbia for at least the next 5 years,” Nagel said. “I hope we can all show up and show the state how special our school is to us.”
Girls Basketball 2016-17 Record