Chamois has more than one weapon

Lady Pirates use team effort to down Mercer

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Nobody knows more than her Chamois teammates how talented Miranda Brandt is on the basketball floor.

Nobody knows more than Brandt how important her Chamois teammates are to her success.

“You have star athletes, but personally, I don’t like that,” Brandt said Thursday night after Chamois rolled past Mercer 62-39 victory in the Class 1 girls semifinals at the Hearnes Center. “It’s a team game and I’m very blessed and coach (Marty Gerloff) is very blessed to have such great teammates.”

Make no mistake, Brandt is the leader of the band for the Lady Pirates. The 5-foot-11 senior, who has signed with SIU-Edwardsville, finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds against the Cardinals.

But for Chamois to advance to its first-ever state title game in basketball, Brandt couldn’t do it alone. She didn’t have to.

Let’s start with Paige Nolte. The 5-11 sophomore hit a pair of big buckets in the final minute of the first half to give the Lady Pirates a 34-30 advantage at the break.

“Right there at the end of the half was what got them going,” Mercer head coach Dan Owens said. “She started hitting some things because we were having to triple-team down low. She stepped up huge.”

Nolte finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds in the contest.

“It’s amazing what Paige does,” Gerloff said. “She’s such a hard worker, she’s in the gym at 6:30 in the morning before school, then is at practice after school. Paige has worked very hard to become the player she’s become.

“She hits big shots for us game after game.”

Then there’s co-captain Alyssa Bullock. The 5-5 senior drilled four 3-pointers to finish with 12 points in Thursday night’s win, including three 3s in the pivotal first half.

Alison Mehmert, a 5-11 junior guard who is getting attention from colleges, added 11 points. The team’s other senior starter, 5-8 guard Emily Gilbert, had four rebounds.

“It takes the pressure off of coach and myself to know Paige is going to be there to knock down open shots, have her feet set,” Brandt said. “Alyssa is money. Alison is great. This is a team.”

Owens and the Cardinals found that out Thursday night.

“They’ve got great balance,” Owens said. “It wasn’t just one kid. You hear a lot about (Brandt), but it was more than that.”

Gerloff echoed that sentiment.

“The other four girls are amazing defensively and when you put the five of them together, it’s amazing,” he said. “They play their roles very well and accept that and they build off each other.”

And as a team, the other four understand the fact Brandt will get her fair share of notoriety.

“They accept the role that Miranda is the girl and she’s going to draw a lot of the attention,” Gerloff said. “But Miranda is a team player.”

Chamois (23-7) will take on Walnut Grove (29-2) in the title game at 8:40 p.m. Saturday at Mizzou Arena. Mercer (28-2) will face Chadwick (25-6) in the third-place game at 8:20 p.m. Friday at Mizzou Arena.

Related article:

Chamois routs Mercer to move to Class 1 title game

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