With all six teams above .500, the Class 4 District 10 girls basketball coaches had a difficult time with the postseason tournament’s seedings and the Owensville Dutchgirls ended up last.
“We were seeded sixth and quite honestly that was probably fair,” Owensville Head Coach Ryan Flanagan said. “We had lost to four of the six teams. I have just been selling the line, no one respects us or thinks we have a chance. So just compete and let the chips fall where they may.”
But Owensville is on course to go from last to first after posting its second upset in three days Monday. The Dutchgirls (16-11) erased second-seeded St. Clair (19-7) in the semifinals, 47-40.
“We are just clicking right now,” Flanagan said. “It’s a really special time for our kids. We have put in a lot of work since the 2017-18 season ended when we were 8-18. St. Clair beat us twice, once by five, and the second time by 20. Last night we handled the press and had very good spacing on the floor.”
St. Clair Head Coach Mike Scheer said it wasn’t his team’s night.
“We didn’t shoot very good and they did a great job of making everything inside hard to go. We didn’t knock much down, so that made a big difference.”
That came after Owensville knocked out Four Rivers Conference co-champion Sullivan Saturday in the first round, 39-38.
Owensville will look to add another higher seeded team to the list of victims Friday as the Dutchgirls face top-seeded Rolla (22-3) for the championship.
“Rolla is No. 4 in Class 4 and they are going to be a load,” Flanagan said. “They have good athletes, good size, good depth. I really am not sure what our chances are, and honestly it doesn’t matter. We are playing extremely well, we have great chemistry, and just want to keep competing. One game at a time, we will be prepared and ready to play Friday and can hopefully keep our Cinderella story going.”
Scheer said Owensville has momentum.
“With the excitement they’ve got going on right now, that means a lot for them,” Scheer said. “You’ve got to wish them good luck. Coach Flanagan did a great job. They’ve gotten better as the year has gone on.”
Monday’s semifinal stunner was another one of Owensville’s redemption wins. St. Clair had beaten the Dutchgirls twice this season, including in the Hermann Tournament semifinals. Early in the game, it looked like St. Clair might make it three in a row.
After the teams traded early three-point baskets, St. Clair grabbed a 15-9 lead before the Dutchgirls came back to cut it to 15-13 through eight minutes.
St. Clair led for the first part of the second quarter until Liana Miller hit a three-point basket to put Owensville up, 21-19, and that’s how the half ended as both sides struggled.
St. Clair got an Alana Hinson basket to tie it early in the third quarter and an Erin York free throw briefly put the Lady Bulldogs back on top, 22-21. But that was St. Clair’s highest point.
Owensville turned to its senior standout Breanna Diestelkamp, and the 6-3 post player stepped out to knock down a three-point basket to put Owensville back on top.
The Dutchgirls never looked back, leading 32-27 after three quarters and holding a two-possession advantage for the fourth quarter.
“If we put the ball into the hole a little better, maybe it’s a different story,” Scheer said. “Some of that was because of the way they were playing. Their defense was good and we were struggling a little bit. As the game gets tighter, it makes a difference and maybe the shots don’t go as good. They were playing with a lot of enthusiasm and energy and that made a big difference.”
Diestelkamp was the game’s standout, scoring 26 points. Diestelkamp seemed to have a tractor beam for any ball which came near her. St. Clair had no answer.
“Breanna is a special player and playing her best now that her best is needed,” Flanagan said.
“She’s such a tremendous player,” Scheer said.
Diestelkamp hit one three-point basket and went 7-9 from the free-throw line. She also took a game-changing charge with 1:43 to play which sent St. Clair’s Alohilani Bursey to the bench for the rest of the game.
Diestelkamp was not the only Dutchgirl to make major contributions. Miller scored nine points.
“Liana Miller is very important to our team, coming off ACL tears which cut her sophomore and junior seasons short,” Flanagan said. “She is a player who stretches the defense and can get to the rim. And she is a hustle monster. She knows any moment could be her last and she plays like it.”
Anna Finley scored six points.
“Anna Finley has been crucial for our success this season,” Flanagan said. “As a freshman, she handles the ball with no fear and is essentially a coach on the floor. I completely trust her to get us in the right situation and make good decisions. She feels no pressure and hadn’t scored all game versus St. Clair before going 6-6 from the free-throw line to put the game on ice. How many freshmen could do that?”
Kate Angell added three points, Ella Wright posted two and Anna Skornia contributed one point.
“The Sullivan win isn’t possible if Ella doesn’t get a steal with 20 seconds left down by two and proceed to make a layup and free throw to give us our one-point lead,” Flanagan said.
Haley Buscher, one of three seniors on this year’s team, scored nine points to tie for St. Clair’s scoring lead. Gracie Sohn also netted nine points.
Bursey scored eight points while being limited due to foul trouble. She had three in the first half and picked up her fourth early in the third quarter.
Alana Hinson scored seven points.
York netted four, all at the free-throw line, in her final game for the Lady Bulldogs. Hannah Machelett, another senior, scored three points.
“I’m very proud of my girls,” Scheer said. “We had a tough start to the year and played some really good teams. In 19 games, we went 17-2, so I’m really proud of the way we’ve played and the things we’ve done. We don’t need to hang our heads tonight.”