Purdy faces championship hurdle against Miller

Friday, February 26, 2016
Purdy's Rion Boyd rises up for a shot during the Lady Eagles' semifinal win over Pierce City on Wednesday. Jared Lankford/sports@monett-times.com

Lady Eagles pass one challenge, now face old foe in final

The Purdy girls basketball team has been one of the most consistent squads in the bi-county area for the last decade.

With one state title, two district championships and five conference crowns in the last six years they have been the picture of post-season success.

Tonight, at 6 p.m., the Lady Eagles (19-5) play in their third district championship in the last four years. They face a familiar foe in Miller (17-10), a team they have failed to defeat in two attempts this season.

"In the beginning, we weren't exactly together like we are now," said Desirie Ennes, senior guard. "I think we know each other better and trust each other better now. We know where we are going to be at [on the floor], and I think that is going to pull us through."

Purdy finally cleared the district juggernaut of Pierce City, the three-time defending champion, with a 51-45 overtime win in Wednesday's semifinal. Prior to struggling with Pierce City in the districts, it was Miller's Hannah Wilkerson, Missouri's all-time leading scorer for boys and girls with 3,724 points, that twice denied Purdy a district title.

The solution to the problem, according to Purdy Coach Eli Ernst, is simple.

"We have to come out and play Purdy Lady Eagle basketball," Ernst said. "We can't be worried about Miller. We have got to worry about Purdy. God has entrusted us with a lot of gifts, and we have to take the gifts we got, ride the emotions, use balance and trust that God is going to take care of us."

Ernst said that he has worked for four years to build his team's defense skill. He believes if the Lady Eagles are to win, it will be with their defense.

It was Purdy's defense that helped it escape the semifinal against Pierce City. The Black and Gold trailed by as many as eight points in the second half before switching to a full court press, which gave Pierce City fits.

In overtime, it was all Purdy.

"Any time you get into overtime, you're looking for success," Ernst said. "You're looking for a spark. We have tools we have been given to use, and we unloaded the toolbox to get the job done."

Scoring for Purdy against Pierce City: Layne Skiles, 29; Sami House, 7; Rion Boyd, 5; Cailyn Spears, 4; and Zoe Brown, Ennes, and Hallie Henderson, 2 each.

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