Bolerjack driven to do better

Hickman, Kickapoo square off
in playoffs for 5th straight year
Friday, March 5, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:20 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 6, 2008

Jodi Bolerjack wasn’t 100 percent and it bugged her.

It was the 2003 Class 5 quarterfinals against Kickapoo. It was the biggest game she had played in since returning from anterior cruciate ligament injury on her left knee.

Hickman lost and she finished with two points.

Memories remain, but a healthy Bolerjack is confident.

Hickman, ranked 10th in the nation, has won 17 straight and will play 15th-ranked Kickapoo in a Class 5 quarterfinal at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Sedalia at State Fair Community College. Kickapoo (26-2) has won nine straight.

“I think we’re going to win,” Bolerjack said. “It’s fun because you know you’re playing the best. We don’t take them lightly. They’re probably our biggest rival and whoever wins keeps going. Sometimes you wish we were on opposite sides, so we could face them in the championship, but that’s how it goes.”

Kewpies and Chiefs "familiar foes"

It’s the fifth straight season the Kewpies (28-1) and Chiefs have met in the quarterfinals. Hickman won in 2000 and 2002. The Kewpies also defeated the Chiefs 54-52 on Dec. 6 in the Columbia College Girls Shootout.

After defeating Hickman last season, Kickapoo went on the win the Class 5 state championship.

“They’re a great program, with a great tradition, and they’re a pretty familiar foe,” Hickman coach Tonya Mirts said. “I think when two great basketball programs meet prior to a state tournament, it makes it awfully special to get there.”

Bolerjack said she believes attacking Kickapoo is the key to victory.

On Dec. 6, the Kewpies fell behind early and rallied late in the fourth quarter with an Amy Bolerjack 3-pointer.

“When we attack a team they can’t stop us,” Jodi Bolerjack said. “When they attack us, bad things happen to us.”

Amy Bolerjack said: “Each year in the past it has been a close game. We’re hoping to change that this year and get a lead.”

Hickman’s multifaceted attack concerns Kickapoo coach Stephanie Phillips.

“They can do it all and that’s why they’re the best team in the state,” Phillips said. “(The Bolerjacks) are a threat for anybody. But they’re not the only part of the team. Those two are great leaders, but the other kids have filled in.”

Experienced players lead both teams

Jodi Bolerjack’s outside shooting has proven pivotal recently. She scored 18 in each of Hickman’s district tournament games and added 20 against Francis Howell on Wednesday.

Kickapoo’s Molly Center, an All-State guard, is one of four returning starters. She scored 16 in a 50-36 Class 5 sectional win against Lebanon.

Kailey Mock, a 6-foot-1 forward, has been the Chiefs inside presence since the graduation of Laura Granzow, a 6-foot-3 center.

The Chiefs will be without junior guard Heather Ezell, who scored a team-high 14 points in the Dec. 6 meeting. Ezell tore her ACL against Republic on Jan. 2.

“It’s exciting,” Phillips said. “Every year both programs have become expected to be here. We have a great deal of respect for each other. It’s fun to watch, fun to coach and fun to play in. Not all games are like that.”

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