Blair Oaks rolls past short-handed California

Lauren Viessman of Blair Oaks watches her 3-point attempt in front of the Lady Falcons’ student section during Wednesday night’s Class 3 District 8 Tournament semifinal against California in Wardsville.

Lauren Viessman of Blair Oaks watches her 3-point attempt in front of the Lady Falcons’ student section during Wednesday night’s Class 3 District 8 Tournament semifinal against California in Wardsville. Photo by Kris Wilson.

WARDSVILLE, Mo. — A great mid-Missouri rivalry lost some of its luster due to the California Lady Pintos being forced to play without three injured starters. The Blair Oaks Lady Falcons were able to take full advantage.

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Adam Stillman reports

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Third-seeded Blair Oaks rolled to a 48-21 victory against second-seeded California in a Class 3 District 8 Tournament semifinal Wednesday night.

“California’s a good team,” Blair Oaks head coach Leroy Bernskoetter said. “They just got hit with some bad luck with all their injuries. Right now it’s all about winning and moving on. The girls still have done a lot of good things.”

California missed the contributions of Sydney Deeken, Meleigha Caudel and Kelsey Roush, all out with injuries.

“We were right there for a half,” California head coach Bobby Sangster said. “They’ve got a lot of firepower and the adversity, the hill that we had to climb was very, very steep. I’m very proud of my girls for coming in here to a very hostile environment to play in a place Blair Oaks is very comfortable with.”

A healthy Blair Oaks exploited that predicament, cruising into Friday’s 6 p.m. final against top-seeded Boonville.

A physical and adrenaline-filled opening quarter saw the score tied at 3 entering the second period.

“Playing them again this quick, a little nerves,” Bernskoetter said, alluding to Blair Oaks’ 63-60 win against California last week. “Didn’t know what to expect because of their injuries. I question myself if we should have done certain things to speed that game up. Defensively we were doing a nice job, we just couldn’t get into the flow early. It wasn’t like we didn’t have good shots, they just didn’t fall. A little bit of that is probably jitters with a district game.”

Blair Oaks didn’t record its first field goal of the game until LeeAnn Polowy canned a jumper with 5:48 left before halftime. That tied the score at 5 and was part of a 13-0 run to end the quarter. The Lady Falcons led 16-5 at halftime.

“We wanted to control more of the game than we did last time,” Sangster said. “That’s hard to do. We knew they were going to come out and sit in a 2-3 zone. We wanted to be very patient and do the things that we needed to do to put points on the board. That at times is very difficult for teams to do. Our style has been for the longest time to get up and get after people and get up and down. To pull these girls back that far may have been a mistake on my part. But 3-3 at the end of one and down 11 at halftime, you say it like that, we were right there.”

That’s when Blair Oaks began to pull away. The Lady Falcons scored the first 10 points of the second half, meaning they used a 23-0 run bridging the second and third quarters to assume control.

“We did a nice job when we were up, extending that lead,” Bernskoetter said.

California ended an 11 minute, 10 second scoring drought when Cameron Meyer’s putback made the score 26-7 with 3:48 left in the third quarter. Renee Roberts’ 3-pointer cut the deficit to 31-10 with 31 seconds left in the third quarter.

Blair Oaks’ biggest lead came at 44-14 on a layup from Polowy with 4:40 to play.

Blair Oaks forced 23 turnovers and held Calfornia to just 9-of-33 shooting (27 percent).

“They lost another player, so they were a little out of sync,” Bernskoetter said. “I think they wanted to keep it a low-scoring game, so I probably played right into that. Defensively we still did a nice job.”

Kayla Allison paced the Lady Pintos (17-9) with four points.

“Sad that it has to end,” Sangster said. “Very sad we have to say goodbye to three wonderful Lady Pintos in Caitlin Meyer, Sydney Deeken and Meleigha Caudel. But very happy with the way the girls performed defensively tonight.”

Polowy led the Lady Falcons (20-7) with 19 points, while Lauren Viessman added 17.

“They’re all trying to stop LeeAnn, so again we had other girls step up,” Bernskoetter said. “We still scored 48 points, which isn’t great but it’s not horrible. It’s all about being in the championship of the districts. There’s not too many teams left. Here we are, one game at a time. We’re still playing. That’s what they’ve wanted and they’ve worked hard to get there.

“Friday night’s going to be a tough one because Boonville’s very talented.”

III

Boonville won Wednesday’s first semifinal 55-43 against fifth-seeded Southern Boone.

Morgan Edwards tallied 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Lady Pirates (25-3), while Olivia Imhoff added 12 points and Hannah Fuemmeler had 10.

Kylie Shoot and Kelsey Randle paced Southern Boone (17-10) with 12 points apiece.

Boonville led 14-6 after one quarter, 29-18 at halftime and 35-34 after three quarters before pulling away late.

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