Pressure, energy and tenacity reigned over the paint as the Lady Bruins took on the Kirkwood Pioneers in the state semifinals championship. Every ball, possession and rebound was a contest which expressed the pure, raw talent of the two teams. Unfortunately, the game drew to a heartbreaking end Friday, March 17 as the girls lost their edge in double overtime, resulting in a 60–56 overtake for the Pioneers.
The first two quarters were led by the Bruins who played an immaculately tight game. The score, 26–18, was a hopeful sign knowing the girls 0–2 record to the Pioneers. Junior guard, Katey Klucking, led the team with an impressive 15 points.
Coming out of halftime, the Pioneers took them by surprise as they quickly chipped away at the Lady Bruin’s lead. Finishing the third quarter with a 34–33 lead, the signal for trouble was clear. Head coach for the Bruins, Jill Nagel, expected the turn in possessions and urged her players to stick to their game plans.
“That’s what [Kirkwood] do,” Nagel said. “That’s been how they get back in ball games, and we knew a run was coming. And with all good teams in playoffs, there’s going to be a run at some point. As I told the kids before, we just try to squash that run as fast as we can.”
As pressure grew to regain the lead, the girl collectively tried to maintain a cool head. With the fourth quarter ending on a 42-’42 tie the girls knew that they had to come out harder and faster in overtime. In their huddle, senior guard Madison Treece claims that positivity was their main focus.
“We were just keeping up our positivity,” Treece said. “[We were thinking] ‘awesome we get to play more basketball’. So just going in with a good attitude and patience.”
With a 50-50 tie going into double overtime, the two exhausted teams went into their final 4 minutes and played a game of catch up to each other that ultimately resulted in 2 consecutive free throws which won the Pioneers the game.
Accepting the loss of the state title, both Nagel and senior guard Elle Brown, reminisce over the great experiences they shared together and with the team and claim to be more proud than ever.
“This is one of the most hardworking teams I’ve ever been on and I could not be more proud of them,” Brown said with tears in her eyes. “The whole time everyone was picking each other up and I was so proud and happy to be a part of it. I’m so proud to be a part of this and I just love everyone [on my team].”
Finally, both coach Nagel and her players pay their respective dues to Kirkwood, as they advance to the state championship.
“ It’s hard to beat someone three times so hats off to Kirkwood but we made them work for every point they got so I couldn’t be more proud of my team,” Treece said. “It might have been the best basketball we’ve played all year.”