Purdy falls in district semifinal

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Purdy junior Jayse Henderson runs through heavy traffic to score 2 points during the Lady Eagles' district semifinal against Pierce City Wednesday. Henderson finished the game with 14 points. Jared Lankford/sports@cassville-democrat.com

Lady Eagles return full squad next season

There were signs of frustration on the faces of the Purdy basketball players as the final seconds slipped off the clock during this week's 69-44 district semifinal loss to Pierce City.

The black and gold (18-8) entered the contest winners in nine of their last 10. Wednesday's game plan was simple: block out, rebound and run the floor, and for the game's first 16 minutes it looked like the No. 3 seed could shock the No. 2 seed.

Purdy had locked up Pierce City's big 3 of Christine Younker, Bailee Hayward and Mattie Brottlund, and even managed to get them into foul trouble. Pierce City freshman Christine Stellwagon hit three 3-pointers in the first half to help her squad establish a 33-26 halftime edge.

"I thought we played with a lot of heart and determination against a bigger team," said Eli Ernst, Purdy head coach. "These girls never gave up and played hard, not just tonight, but down the home stretch of the season."

The second half was a different story, as Purdy began to run out of steam, and Pierce City imposed its will in the paint scoring over the smaller Lady Eagles' post players.

Pierce City extended its lead to 49-34 at the end of the third period with a 16-8 run that spanned the entire quarter.

As the game ended and the teams retreated to their respective locker rooms, the Purdy players, while upset that their season ended, took solace in one fact -- the whole roster returns next season.

Ernst's roster contains no senior players and his starting lineup features one junior and four sophomores.

"I told the team before the game that we have nothing to lose tonight, and just go play hard," said junior guard Jayse Henderson. "We know that if we work hard in the summer and [further] develop our team chemistry, we will be stronger next year."

Ernst said after claiming an outright conference title and playing their best ball at the end of the season, this summer will be key.

"We have to get some floor exposure this summer for our younger players," Ernst said. "Summer is when athletes are made. We need to get back in the gym and work."

Scoring for Purdy in the semifinal were: Henderson, 14; Desirie Ennes, 9; Rion Boyd and Courtney White, 7 each; Ashton Young, 4; Andrea Humphrey; 2 and Sami House, 1.

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