Despite a hard-fought game that put Exeter within 4 points of the defending state champion with only minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Lady Tigers were limited to just four points in the final minutes of play, which gave Chadwick an eventual 66-56 victory.
"Our effort was good. We just didn't execute at the time we needed to," said third-year Coach Jason Cole. "They played their hearts out, and I couldn't call the season anything but a success."
Freshman Whitney Edie led the Lady Tigers with 17 points against Chadwick while seniors deAnna Harris and Kendale Savage contributed 14 and 11 points respectively. Others adding to Exeter's point total were Ashley Porter and Kendra Divine with 5 points each and Janelle Scott with 4.
Chadwick had four players scoring in the double digits. Point leaders were Cassie Lewis with 21, Brittany Jones with 16, Amanda Workman with 15 and Misty Bettis with 13.
To advance to the championship game, the Lady Tigers defeated Thomas Jefferson 42-35. In that game, Exeter point-getters were: Scott 16; Savage and Harris, 6 each; Porter, 5; Edie, 4; Divine, 3; and Chelsey Brattin, 2.
The Exeter Lady Tigers' 2005-06 season was one of the most successful in school history. The talented squad amassed a record of 25 wins and three losses and went undefeated (12-0) in the conference to claim the Ozark 7 championship.
In addition to finishing as district runners-up, Exeter captured two first place trophies at the McAuley and Sarcoxie tournament and brought home third place from the very competitive Walnut Grove Tournament.
This year's team was led by four solid seniors in Divine, Scott, Savage and Harris.
"These seniors will be the first group to graduate with a winning record in varsity for their four years," said Coach Cole.
Over the last three years, the Lady Tigers have posted a 52-27 record, which is more wins than that of the previous 15 years combined, Cole said.
"It takes talent to be able to do this, for sure," said Cole. "The group worked hard. From the seniors all the way down to the freshmen, they all worked hard and wanted to learn. They are a good group of kids."
Other key members of the Lady Tigers varsity squad included juniors Porter, Brattin and Kady Stringer, who missed the season due to injury; sophomore Alisha Scott; and freshmen Edie, Katie Chadd and Kasie Scott.
This year's junior varsity and freshmen team had a 10-5 overall record and the freshmen were undefeated. Jayvee team members were Heather Erwin, Kasie Scott, Alisha Wubker, Jennifer Malicoat, Chadd and Alisha Scott.
"This group developed throughout the season in everything from ball handling to scoring," said Cole. "Often times the JV players don't receive the recognition they deserve. These girls came to practice with a good attitude and work ethic each day. They also provided depth to the varsity team."
Cole is very optimistic about the future of Lady Tiger basketball.
"I feel the girls basketball program is in very good shape from top to bottom," said Cole.
The seventh and eighth grade teams at Exeter went 55-19 over the last three seasons and the junior varsity and freshmen squads went 27-17. In all, the girls' junior high and high school teams at Exeter have won 68 percent of their games over a three-year span.
"The loss of four seniors will hurt, but there are a number of hard-working kids left in the program to fill new roles and build on past success," said Cole.
"Next year, we'll be young," continued Cole. "You'll see a lot of the same that have been in the program for three or four years now. The varsity will be successful. The program is established."