Sullivan’s hopes to win a girls basketball state title ended Saturday in Bolivar.
Carl Junction (28-0) knocked out the Lady Eagles (25-3) at Southwest Baptist University, 64-48.
“It was a tough game,” Sullivan Head Coach Jordan Flora said. “They played together. They played hard and they never quit. We got down almost 21 points and they battled, so I’m proud of the girls for that effort. It’s tough to do. They’re a really good basketball team, so I’m proud of them.”
For Carl Junction, it was the final game of the season as well. MSHSAA canceled the Show-Me Showdown for Classes 4 and 5 Monday due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Sullivan, it was the third time the team had reached the quarterfinals. In 2009, Dexter stopped the Lady Eagles in the quarterfinals in Farmington, 46-39.
In 2012, Webb City defeated Sullivan at Drury University in Springfield, 55-39.
Sullivan went into Saturday’s game shorthanded. Senior Riley Lock, a starter, was out with a knee injury suffered in the sectional win last Tuesday over Helias.
“Rue (Lock) has been the glue to this team,” Flora said. “When she went down, obviously it hurt us. We had girls step up today. Porscha Polanowski and Payton Dudley stepped up and played some great minutes for us. Even without Rue, other girls stepped up and played hard. I was proud of the effort.”
Another senior, Dudley, started in her place.
With a limit of 60 fans per side, it appeared as if the college facility was nearly empty. The fans made up for lack of numbers with noise.
“We had some calls and situations where we had to take care of 60 people, but the focus was still there,” Flora said. “We focused on basketball. We knew coming in that the important people were going to be here, the families were going to be here. We focused on basketball. It was a little hurdle. It didn’t affect us. We came out and played the best we could.”
After multiple trips down the floor, Carl Junction finally scored with Shila Winder hitting the game’s first basket.
Senior Katie Scott, the Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year, netted the next two baskets as Carl Junction forged ahead, 6-0.
Sullivan cut that lead in half on a three-point basket by sophomore Rylee Denbow.
Senior Mallory Shetley scored the next two points on free throws, cutting the Carl Junction lead to 6-5.
Shetley was the only Sullivan player to score for the rest of the half and she netted seven points in the first quarter and all nine of Sullivan’s points in the second quarter.
“The last couple of games, Mallory has been on a mission,” Flora said. “She took the team on her back at times and ran with it. I couldn’t be more proud of her and what she’s done here. She’s going to do great things at Columbia College. I’m going to miss her, for sure.”
After Shetley’s free throws, Carl Junction scored the next eight points in a row before Shetley hit two baskets, including a three, to cut the gap to 14-10 after eight minutes.
Scott and freshman Destiny Buerge each scored six points for the Lady Bulldogs. Winder had the other basket.
Just as she ended the first quarter, Shetley knocked down a three to start the second quarter, pulling Sullivan back to within a point, 14-13.
After a timeout, Buerge hit a three on the other end to give Carl Junction a little cushion.
Carl Junction hit three threes in the quarter, two from Buerge, to lead at the intermission, 28-19.
Also hitting a three was senior Ashley Stokes, who scored at the end of the half.
Scott was forced to exit the game after picking up her second foul with 4:39 to play in the half.
Shetley had a three, a two-point shot and four free throws in the second quarter for Sullivan’s nine points.
Sullivan didn’t shoot a free throw after the first half and Shetley hit all six of her attempts.
Carl Junction was 4-5 from the line in the opening half.
At the half, Shetley had 16 points while Denbow scored three.
For Carl Junction, Buerge was the leader with 12 points. Scott had six while Winder scored four in the first half. Stokes and sophomore Jessa Hylton had three points apiece.
Senior Kya Harbour opened the second half with a three, but Carl Junction went on a 13-point run through much of the third quarter, building the lead to 39-22. Harbour ended that run with another three.
At the end of the quarter, Carl Junction enjoyed a 13-point lead, 43-30.
Senior Danielle Wrensch scored all five of her points to lead Carl Junction for the quarter.
Buerge and senior Taylor Hughes scored four points apiece. Scott added two during the quarter.
The third quarter brought Buerge up to 16 points in the game.
Harbour was Sullivan’s top scorer in the third quarter with six points.
Shetley scored five, which brought her total up to 21 for the contest.
Sullivan had four players score in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t catch Carl Junction.
The Lady Bulldogs led comfortably and were able to seal the game at the free-throw line. Carl Junction went 13-15 from the stripe over the final eight minutes as Sullivan fouled to gain extra possessions.
Shetley hit two more threes in the quarter and junior Hanna Johanning also had a pair of threes.
Denbow netted four points while Polanowski added two points.
Buerge scored seven points, all from the free-throw line.
Scott had six points, going 4-4 from the free-throw line. She was 6-6 for the game.
Hughes had four points while Winder and Hylton scored two points apiece.
Shetley led Sullivan with 27 points, including five three-point baskets. She went 6-6 from the free-throw line.
“She’s a player,” Flora said. “I’m going to miss her to death. I’m going to miss all of these girls.”
Denbow closed out with seven points, including one three-point shot.
Harbour and Johanning had six points apiece. Each hit two three-point baskets.
Polanowski scored two points.
Sullivan knocked down 10 three-point baskets and went 6-6 from the free-throw line.
Sullivan’s seniors were Dudley, Harbour, Lock, Casey Licklider, Shetley and Polanowski.
“The senior class was amazing,” said Flora. “The work ethic these girls had is second to none. They put in countless hours. I’m going to miss every one of them. That’s family to me.”
Buerge led Carl Junction with 23 points, including three three-point baskets. She was 10-12 from the free-throw line.
Scott scored 14 points and was 6-6 from the free-throw line.
Hughes scored eight points.
Winder was next with six points. She was 4-4 from the free-throw line.
Wrensch and Hylton each had five points. Wrensch scored one three-point basket.
Stokes added a three-point basket.
For the game, Carl Junction went 21-25 from the free-throw line and hit five three-point baskets.