Lining up more than an hour and a half before Saturday’s game began, fans from Blair Oaks waited outside Mizzou Arena to see the Jefferson City team’s Class 3 girls’ championship game. The kelly-green shirts most were wearing announced the school’s trip to the state final four, the first in the Falcons’ history.
The ecstatic fans outnumbered those of defending champion Pembroke Hill nearly 4-to-1 and trickled into the upper deck of the arena. After a poor start, the Blair Oaks Falcons were able to cut the Raiders’ lead to 15-14. But despite its best efforts, the raucous group was unable to keep its team in the game for long. Pembroke Hill won the championship, 66-40.
Pembroke ended the half on a 18-6 run, and the red and blue-clad fans’ cheers rose above those of the humbled Falcons. They clasped their neon-green wigs and pulled hats to cover their eyes as things got out of hand.
Hitting layup afterlayup, Pembroke sophomore Elyseia Dunn took over in the third quarter, pushing the lead to 21 for the Raiders.
Falcons coach Leroy Bernskoetter massaged his temples and rubbed at his face before heaving a sigh and clapping to encourage his team. His exasperated look matched that of his team, wondering what to do to stop the bleeding.
During the awarding of the medals, the fans, who continued to cheer despite the overwhelming deficit, gave the team a standing ovation as they exited the court.
“The girls were upset, but I told them to look at what we’ve accomplished,” Bernskoetter said. “Even though we got beat, I’m still proud of them — I have no regrets.”
Pembroke Hill, which scored 56 of its 66 points from Dunn and fellow sophomore Kristina Mingus, felt that the past year’s championship was key in this year’s large margin of victory.
“It was very helpful to have that experience to build around,” Raiders coach Mark Spigarelli said. “It’s a great feeling to play one of your best games in the state championship.”
Dunn thought senior point guard Kaniesha Agee was responsible for her success.
“Our point guard did a great job of getting me the ball,” Dunn said. “I was just playing my game making shots.”
Mingus credited the victory to the effort of her teammates.
“It seemed easy,” she said, “but we were working our butts off out there.”
CLASS 2 GIRLS
Metro 49, Clopton 44
Moneshia Davis scored 18 points and had a critical steal with 34 seconds left to help Metro-St. Louis win its first state title Friday.
The game was a rematch of last season’s title game, which Clopton won 57-50. Metro was a runner-up in Class 3 in 2004.
CLASS 1 GIRLS
Dekalb 51, Leeton 39
A 26-6 run propelled Dekalb to its first state title Saturday and extended its winning streak to 16.
Sophomore Kelsey Wolfe scored 19 points for the Tigers, including 12 during the run. Sophomore Karley Evans added 10 points.
The Tigers trailed 33-25 with 2 minutes 33 seconds left in the third quarter before going on a 16-0 run. Leeton didn’t score again until 5:02 remained in the fourth quarter.