Both boys and girls Frisco League basketball teams fought in physical contests all winter, but come Wednesday, only two will participate in the Class 2 and Class 3 state championship sectional rounds. The Crocker Lady Lions, who defeated Laquey 58-42; and Iberia Rangers, who stomped Vienna 53-28 both on Saturday night are the sole Frisco competitors still alive in the postseason.
Crocker Lady Lions
Crocker 58, Laquey 42
A stellar regular season sometimes doesn't indicate a team is championship-caliber quality. Crocker (26-2) finished the season with only two blemishes in back-to-back midseason losses to Bolivar and Dixon. The Lady Lions impressive record earned the squad the No. 1 seed in the Class 2, District 9 tournament and to an eventual win over Frisco rival Laquey in the district championship.
"All seven of our kids are capable of scoring and all do it in different ways" Crocker coach Nancy Ward said before Saturday's contest. "They don't care who's doing the scoring, all they care about is what's on the scoreboard."
Ward also commended Laquey's Maura Skidmore and Danielle Graves for their talents before corralling both to earn the district championship.
Now the Lady Lions will prepare for the sectional round of the state tournament, which begins Wednesday against Seymour in Lebanon.
"It's going to be a big match-up, one we have to prepare for," Ward said.
Laquey Lady Hornets
A chance at redemption turned into a path to disappointment for Laquey in Saturday's district championship loss.
Laquey coach Wesley Shaw was eager to manage his squad against the surging Crocker team, which completed win streaks of 10 and 16 during the season.
But, for the second time in February, Crocker knocked off the Lady Hornets this weekend. Saturday's match-up was much more competitive than the Feb. 11, 57-20 rout.
However, the Lady Lions' stifling full-court pressure caused fits for Laquey early on Saturday as Crocker jumped out to an early lead and never looked back.
Laquey's offense was much more productive Saturday scoring 22 more points than in the previous contest. Unfortunately those points weren't enough to keep the Lady Lions from extending a commanding lead and eventually stealing district glory from Laquey.
It may be back to the drawing board for Shaw and his seven-girl squad, but there is good news for Lady Hornets fans: all but two players will return to the hardwood next season, including Skidmore and Graves, all of whom will help Coach Shaw's career record continue to improve.
Fatima 85, Dixon 66
The Comets' balanced offensive attack proved too much for the Dixon Bulldogs, who finished their campaign with a 19-8 record, including an undefeated Frisco League championship.
Page 2 of 3 - Fatima bolted to a 26-15 lead after the first period and was in control the rest of the way. The Comets outscored Dixon 18-11 in the second period to take a 44-26 halftime edge. Fatima led 66-49 heading into the fourth quarter.
Pat Schnieders, a 6-0 senior guard, and 6-7 senior post Chad Stegeman each had 22 points to power Fatima.
Collin Holzer, a 5-11 senior guard, finished with a game-high 34 points to finish with 2,005 for his Bulldog career, passing former Mizzou legend John Brown as Dixon's all-time career scoring leader.
Also for Dixon, 5-10 sophomore Hayden Yoakum had 22 points.
Class 3, District 9 Boys Championship: Fatima 65, St. James 37
Dixon Lady Bulldogs
Top-seeded St. James capped an impressive run to the Missouri Class 3, District 9 championship on Saturday night by chopping second-seeded Dixon, 64-49 in the title game in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Cuba High School.
The game was backed up a day due to last week's snow storm.
Dixon, ranked No. 8 in the latest state poll, ends with a 24-4 mark. It was the first loss for the Lady Bulldogs since Dec. 28.
On Saturday St. James again got off to a big early lead. But this time there would be no comeback.
Senior forward M.J. Buschmann got the Lady Tigers off to a fast start, netting 11 first-quarter points, including three 3-point baskets, as St. James bolted to a 18-7 lead entering the second period.
Dixon went on a 13-9 run to start the second period. However, the Lady Tigers outscored Dixon 7-2 to end the half. Sophomore forward Alison McDowell made a steal, which led to a pair of Buschmann free throws with 2:31 remaining to give St. James a 14-point edge. Dixon's all-state senior guard Hunter Yoakum ended a scoreless Lady Bulldog drought of more than 4:30 with two free throws to end the first half and cut the St. James edge to 34-22 at intermission.
St. James would keep a double-figure lead throughout the second half.
After Yoakum sank a driving layup to open the second half, Buschmann and sophomore guard Ashlee Marlatt hit back-to-back three-pointers to up the Lady Tiger lead to 16. McDowell scored on a layup to give STJ its largest lead of the game, 49-32. Yoakum's two free throws cut the Lady Bulldog deficit to 49-34 heading into the fourth quarter.
St. James sank 10-of-11 free throws in the period to kill Dixon's comeback hopes.
"We had a definite game plan in place," Wells said. "We still wanted to pressure them but in the halfcourt we defensed them a little different and our kids did a fantastic job executing.
Page 3 of 3 - "When (Dixon) got down they came out and got super physical and we responded."
Buschmann fired in 23 points, grabbed seven rebounds and made six steals for the Lady Tigers while sophomore guard Alexis Uffmann had 13 points and dished out eight assists and Marlatt had 12 points.
St. James netted eight 3-pointers.
Yoakum tallied 23 points to lead Dixon while 5-5 junior guard Mattie Whitaker added 11.
St. James (23-4) – Uffmann 2-8-13, Kean 1-0-2, H. Perona 1-0-2, Buschmann 7-5-23, Marlatt 3-4-12, McDowell 1-0-2, S. Rinehart 3-1-8, Diestelkamp 1-0-2, Totals 19-18-64.
Dixon (24-4) – McMillian 1-0-3, Whitaker 3-5-11, Purcell 3-0-8, Yoakum 8-7-23, Ray 2-0-4, Totals 17-12-49.