No. 1 Boonville beats Blair Oaks for district tournament title

Chelsi Emerson of Blair Oaks goes up against Morgan Edwards of Boonville during Friday night’s Class 3 District 8 championship game in Wardsville.

Chelsi Emerson of Blair Oaks goes up against Morgan Edwards of Boonville during Friday night’s Class 3 District 8 championship game in Wardsville. Photo by Kris Wilson.

WARDSVILLE, Mo. — It just wasn’t Blair Oaks’ night.

Boonville proved to be too much to handle, as the top-seeded Lady Pirates won the Class 3 District 8 Tournament title with a 55-33 victory Friday night.

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“They’re a handful. We didn’t exactly shoot lights out on our end, and to beat somebody like that sometimes you may have to have a great shooting night,” Blair Oaks head coach Leroy Bernskeotter said.

Blair Oaks went 14-of-38 from the field (37 percent) and turned the ball over 16 times against a bigger Boonville squad. The Lady Pirates boast three players listed at 5-foot-11 or taller, while Blair Oaks’ tallest player who received playing time came in at 5-foot-10.

“Their size was just a big factor tonight,” Bernskoetter said, alluding to Boonville’s 32-17 edge in rebounds. “Because of their size and their press, it was hard for us to ever get in a good flow.”

The tallest of that trio is 6-foot-1 junior Morgan Edwards. She registered game-highs with 18 points and 12 rebounds while going 7-of-13 from the field.

“She’s going to intimidate you inside, and then she’s just going to control the boards so much,” Bernskoetter said. “Those are things you don’t see in the stat sheets. You put so much emphasis on her, because if you don’t, it’s just bucket after bucket. That allows them other options and tonight their outside game was not that bad and they hurt us. They pulled away and we couldn’t seem to hit some shots when we needed it.”

Blair Oaks was able to negate that size advantage early on, as the Lady Falcons’ active 2-3 zone caused all kinds of havoc. The Lady Falcons led 9-4 after one quarter, as Edwards went for just four points on 2-of-7 shooting. Blair Oaks closed the opening period on an 8-0 run with buckets from Lauren Viessman (two), LeeAnn Polowy and Sara Jones.

“Defensively we really had a lot of energy,” Bernskoetter said, hinting at Boonville’s five turnovers and 2-for-11 shooting in the opening quarter. “As the game progressed, sometimes it’s hard to maintain that emotion for that long. That’s when the physical size they have plays a factor.”

Boonville then asserted itself. The Lady Pirates, after all, are 26-3 and receiving votes in the Class 3 poll.

Tied at 18, Boonville finished the first half on an 8-1 run to go up 26-19 heading into the break. Edwards was still stuck on four points.

Edwards scored six points in the third quarter, as Boonville led 39-30 entering the final period. It was all Lady Pirates down the stretch.

Boonville used a 16-3 edge over the final eight minutes to pull away, with Boonville’s biggest lead doubling as the final margin. Edwards tallied eight points in the stanza, while Blair Oaks went 1-of-8 from the field.

“We kind of faltered in the fourth quarter where we gave up some easy buckets,” Bernskoetter said. “We were behind and it made that score look a whole lot worse than what it was. We couldn’t get the ball to go in the hole. We had a couple little droughts and that hurt us. They came down and made some good trips and scored.”

Aly Wessing and Paige Renfrow added 10 points apiece for Boonville, which advances to the sectional round to take on the Palmyra-Brookfield winner.

“They’re a good team,” Bernskoetter said. “If you go out and play well and the best you can and the hardest you can and you lose, that’s just how it goes because not everyone can win.”

Polowy paced Blair Oaks (20-8) with nine points.

“It’s a tough way to lose,” Bernskoetter said. “Especially when you’re this close and you’ve fought this hard. Our girls have nothing to be ashamed of. They had a good season, 20 wins, (Tri-County) conference champs. They’re hurting, they’re crying, a lot of seniors in there. All the seniors played a pivotal part.”

Blair Oaks loses six seniors — Polowy, Jones, Alyson Jones, Paige Siebeneck, Amanda Emerson and Taylor Thurston.

“I’m very proud of our girls, very proud of our seniors,” Bernskoetter said. “They played exceptionally hard all year and are great examples for Blair Oaks. Can’t ask for any more than that from them.”

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