Lady Eagles teams battle for district nest

Friday, February 24, 2017

Purdy, Pierce City collide in championship tonight

What is guaranteed is that a Lady Eagles mascot will celebrate a district championship tonight on the floor in Sarcoxie.

What has yet to be decided is whether it will be the Lady Eagles of Purdy (25-1) or the Lady Eagles of Pierce City (23-4).

The Black and Gold squad of Purdy carries into tonight’s tilt the No. 1 district seed, a No. 7 state ranking, a 23-game winning streak and a 5-point regular season win over Pierce City.

However, history has not been on Purdy’s side the last five years against Pierce City.

Three times the two teams have tangled in the district playoffs, twice in the district title, and Pierce City has won all three.

Under Coach Eli Ernst, Purdy is 2-5 all-time against Pierce City, but the team believes that this year sports the squad that will get them over the top in districts and their playoff nemesis.

“We’ve trained all year for this moment,” Ernst said. “We’ve approached how we coached and how we handle the girls. We’ve put them in a lot of mental challenges, so that when we get to this situation, we can take that next step.”

In his five years, Ernst believes that this is his toughest team in terms of being mentally strong.

“We’ve had a lot of mentally tough kids throughout the years, but just [came up short] in big moments,” he said. “That’s not a shot at those previous kids, because they were great, hard working kids, but this team is different. The results have rendered themselves all year long. We’ve been state-ranked all year. The record is what it is, and it didn’t get that way by playing weak opponents.”

For Pierce City, this game boils down to eliminating mistakes.

“The first time we played them, we had a 9-point lead with seconds left in the second quarter,” Rob Guerin said. “They hit a 3-pointer to go in to half down 6. Then we were flat to start the third quarter and they stayed hot. We have to start both the first half and second half with intensity.”

Guerin said Purdy does a great job of turning teams over, and ball security will be at a premium.

Both coaches agreed that bench depth will be a key to determining the winner.

One other note, Purdy’s lone loss of the season came to Walnut Grove at home. Pierce City defeated Walnut Grove on the road.

Tipoff in Sarcoxie is set for 6 p.m.

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