Overall team depth played a major role in deciding the MSHSAA Class 2 girls basketball state champion Saturday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.
New Haven (21-11) held a one-point lead over Crane after three quarters, but was outscored 18-7 over the final eight minutes in the Lady Pirates’ 55-45 victory.
“We just ran out of gas. They came at us with lots of girls,” said New Haven Head Coach Doug Peirick. “Everybody on that team guarded well. They prevented our other girls, besides Rachel (Steinhoff), to get good looks at the basket. In the fourth quarter, we were dead tired. We didn’t have any legs.”
Crane (30-3) made wholesale substitutions at times, five in and five out, and used its full-court pressure to wear down the Lady Shamrocks.
“I thought we wore them down. We ran wave after wave at them. Ultimately, I think that’s what got it for us,” said Crane Head Coach Jeremy Mullins. “We only had seven turnovers, so that was good. I knew we could get the ball to the paint. It was just a matter of finishing from there.”
New Haven was prepared for what it was up against, but couldn’t reach the finish line first.
“We run seven girls out. They run 12. We knew going in that they were going to run 12 girls at us,” Peirick said. “He played them about six minutes and then he rotated another five in, and then rotated a couple at a time after that. It just takes a toll on seven girls for 32 minutes.”
Lady Shamrocks’ junior guard Rachel Steinhoff played all 32 minutes, handling the ball against Crane’s full-court pressure.
“I knew from the beginning that their goal was going to be to wear me out and they did a good job of that,” Steinhoff said.
It marked the second straight season the Lady Shamrocks lost in the Class 2 title game.
“That’s a good team over there, a real good team. Congratulations to them. I can’t deny that we got beat by a better team,” Peirick said. “I knew they were coming out guns a blazing like that. They did it to Skyline (semifinals) and there was no reason for them not to do it against us. Everybody knows that Rachel is our primary ball handler and primary scorer.”
The entire game was close until Crane pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 13-10 after one quarter, New Haven went on an 11-4 run over the first five minutes of the second quarter to take a 21-17 advantage.
Crane came back to take a 26-24 lead into halftime.
New Haven trailed 35-28 with 3:50 left in the third quarter, but ended the period on a 10-2 run to lead 38-37 heading into the final eight minutes.
Maggie McMenamy, Crane’s lone senior, scored seven points in the first 3 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter to give the Lady Pirates the lead for good.
Steinhoff led the way for New Haven with 26 points, three rebounds and three steals. She was 7-11 shooting from the field and 11-15 from the free-throw line.
“She’s a tremendous player. We ran a couple of different people out there to guard her,” Mullins said of Steinhoff. “She’s got another year to develop as a player. She can get into the lane anytime she wants. She makes a lot of good things happen.”
Megan Shockley finished with six points and two rebounds.
Emily Kallmeyer also played the full 32 minutes, collecting four points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Stephanie Scheer knocked down a three-pointer, finishing with three points and six rebounds.
Kierstin Monzyk, New Haven’s lone senior, had two points.
Kayla Meyer added two points and four rebounds. Stephanie Gerling had two points and two rebounds.
“Rachel did an outstanding job scoring, getting the ball to the basket,” Peirick said. “Kiersten guarded well. She didn’t score much tonight. She was a big part of us getting here. She struggled shooting up until the last week of the season. She hit a shot to put us in overtime in one of our conference games. From there, she stroked the ball well.”
New Haven was 13-20 from the foul line and 2-2 from three-point range.
“I couldn’t ask for anything better, that’s for sure. It would have been a lot better if we would have won, but I’m happy,” Monzyk said. “Overall, I couldn’t have asked for anything more from these girls. They did everything that I could imagine them doing, and they did it even better at times.”
McMenamy paced Crane with 13 points and eight rebounds. Riley Israel added 12 points. Emma Lander scored 10 points.
The Lady Pirates, which ended the season on a 21-game winning streak, had no one play more than 23 minutes. Four Lady Shamrocks played 23 minutes or more.
“We run. That’s our main thing, to run,” said Crane guard Allie Hagler. “We have all of those legs that can give us a rest. Everyone else plays their main five and a substitute.”
The Lady Shamrocks shot 51 percent from the field (15-29), but didn’t get as many opportunities as they wanted and had 16 turnovers.
“I was a little surprised they didn’t try a box-and-one, but their whole team plays defense. We ran our sets. We got some good shots out of our sets,” Peirick said. “We’re not big at all. Our tallest player is 5-11. She’s a sophomore. These girls just have a lot of heart and desire to win. They grind it out every night. In practice, they compete. You can’t deny they have a lot of heart.”
Losing just one senior apiece, New Haven and Crane both should be solid again next year. Skyline, which lost to Crane in the semifinals, returns all five starters next season.
Monzyk will play softball next year at East Central College.
“When Kierstin was in seventh grade, she had 16 girls in her class play basketball and she’s the only one left out of those 16 girls who played. She stuck with it,” Peirick said. “She’s a three-sport athlete and just a good athlete all the way around. She’s going to college to play softball. She’s a state track athlete also. We’re proud of her.”
The Lady Shamrocks hope to make another run at it next season.
“My senior year will be the last chance to get on the wall. I want to be up there with my dad (Ray Steinhoff), my brother (Ryan Steinhoff) and everybody else,” Steinhoff said. “Second place is satisfying, in a way, because not many people get to live out this experience, and we’ve done it twice. That’s amazing. The third time is a charm, maybe.”