For his team to finally earn the program’s first ever spot to the Final Four, Community R-VI head girls basketball coach Bob Curtis knew it was going to take a total team effort to knock off Green City featuring Brook Littrell.
After all, Littrell has 2,000 career points as a junior and even scored more than 50 points in at least three games this season.
With three days of practice to put together a solid defensive game play, Curtis’ Lady Trojans had three players with four fouls trying to stop Littrell.
In spite of Green City’s 18-10 third quarter run, the Lady Trojans had a big fourth quarter to seal a 61-50 state quarterfinals win in a game played on Saturday, March 2 at Salisbury High School. Littrell finished the game with 35 points.
“Not to often will I say we did a nice job defending someone when they have 35 points in a game, but in this instance, we really did a nice job on her,” Curtis said. “I told the girls before the game that our goal was to get to 60 points in 32 minutes and hold Brooke to less than 40; if we could do that we would be successful. The girls put a check mark in both of those boxes and punched a ticket to the schools first Final Four in girls basketball in school history. I couldn’t be more proud of our whole team all year the difference in this team is our depth at all positions.”
With the win, the Lady Trojans will play their first ever Final Four game on Friday, March 8 at 8:10 p.m. inside the Hammons Student Center.
A victory in the state semifinals will put them in the championship game at 8:10 p.m. on Saturday, March 9 inside the JQH Arena on the campus of Missouri State University. A loss gives them a third place game at 12:50 p.m., also inside the JQH Arena.
Curtis was happy to see seniors Taren Clark and Delanie Windmann get their chance for a trip to the Final Four after being heartbroken in 2016 when the Lady Trojans lost to Glasgow in the state quarterfinals.
“…So to go out their final campaign in the same gym with a win and a trip to Springfield feels really good for those two girls who have been solid role players for four years with the Lady Trojans,” Curtis said. “Taren typically guards our opponents best player and does a fabulous job along with Delanie, who adds a lot of toughness and attitude around the rim hauling in rebounds and getting put backs on the offensive end.”
During the quarterfinals victory, Community R-VI jumped out to a 14-7 first quarter lead and appeared in control of the game up 33-21 at halftime.
Green City, behind Littrell, outscored Community R-VI by eight points in the third to get the lead down to four.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Lady Trojans scored one their first two possessions. They pushed the lead to eight points before sealing the win at the free throw line.
Natalie Thomas made 8-of-9 free throws in the fourth and Brianna Beamer made 5-of-6 as the two Lady Trojans combined to make 13-of-15 down the stretch.
“This group of girls just refuse to lose no matter what the score or how they have played,” Curtis said. “We can explode at any moment offensively.”
Thomas finished the game with 21 points; Bowers had 12 points; Beamer scored 10 points; Saide Hoyt had eight points; Lauryn Robnett and Alexis Welch scored four points; while Deann Brooks had two points. Sadie Hoyt and Brooks combined to pull down 13 rebounds.
State Sectionals win over Pilot Grove
Coach Curtis will tell you it is never easy to beat any team three times in one season, not to mention an annual state powerhouse like Pilot Grove.
Earlier in the season, the Lady Trojans beat Pilot Grove to win the New Franklin Tournament title and also beat them during Homecoming in a game that helped to decide the Central Activities Conference (C.A.C.) regular season title.
In battle number three played at Sturgeon High School on Tuesday, February 26, the Lady Trojans held a slim one-point edge at halftime.
Fortunately, Thomas and Bowers took over the game after the break as the Lady Trojans outscored Pilot Grove 29-9 in the third quarter.
With Pilot Grove’s solid post play, Thomas and Bowers combined for seven three-pointers to help Community R-VI to a 21-point lead heading into the quarter.
After making all four free throws and making 9-of-12 shots from the field in the third, the Lady Trojans held on late for a 64-43 win.
“The statement was made and the Tigers would not recover from such a blow, Curtis noted.
Thomas led the team with a double-double of 26 points, 10 rebounds, five assists; and four steals; Bowers added 15 points and three rebounds; Sadie Hoyt had six points and four rebounds; Beamer scored six points and three steals; Welch had six points and six rebounds; and Brooks scored five points and six rebounds.
Community R-VI made 20-of-29 free throws in the win while Pilot Grove made 21-of-31. Littrell made 21-of-25 free throws in the loss for Pilot Grove.