FARMINGTON — The girls’ Class 4, District 4 championship plaque stands most prominently in Battle High School’s mostly empty trophy case.
Posters that read, “District and Sectional Champions!” are taped to the school walls.
Well before Saturday’s Regional matchup with the Dexter Bearcats, the Spartans' coaching staff and administration were proud of the team’s first-year success.
But, they wanted one more win and the trip to a final four in Columbia that would come with it. That wasn't going to happen.
Dexter’s experienced, physical and highly active full-court press denied the Spartans that opportunity during a 75-31 blowout in Farmington, three hours from home for Battle.
Battle (12-16) was unable to advance the ball into the frontcourt with any consistency.
The defense for the Bearcats (26-3) forced 10 first-quarter turnovers, and the opening eight minutes passed without a Spartan made field goal.
Dexter's defense just wasn't something Battle could easily prepare for.
“Tape doesn’t do (the press) justice,” Battle coach Angie Roberds said.
If anything good came from that first period for Battle, it was that they entered the bonus after only 5:23 of play. Seventeen of the Spartans 21 first-half points came from the foul-line, where they were 18-for-27 on the night.
While 49 free throws were shot in the game, Roberds thought there should have been more. Hand checks abounded. Roberds was not the only one in the building yelling at the officials, though.
Plenty of Dexter fans made the trip to Farmington and comprised a hostile crowd. Roberds said it was the most fans that the team had played in front of all season.
With the help of hundreds in red, Dexter wore the Spartans down by halftime.
Battle entered the locker room down 41-21 but with some momentum from a 6-1 run to end the second quarter.
However, the Spartans committed five turnovers in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the third quarter, and Roberds could feel that she had lost the game.
“We knew they were getting tired,” Dexter coach Chad Allen said. “That constant pressure got to them.”
After Dexter’s third-quarter run, the game was all but over.
After the final buzzer, Roberds made sure her team knew she was proud of them. Then, she let them know fall practice was not the time to get back to work.
“We talked about what they accomplished this school year, opening a brand new school,” Roberds said. “Ballplayers are made in the summer when no one is watching.”
Roberds is already excited for the 2014-15 season, when her Spartans will join Rock Bridge and Hickman High Schools in Class 5 competition.
“The surrounding areas better take notice, because Columbia has three schools ready to come in and fight,” Roberds said.
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