Early in the third quarter Tuesday night at Bob Sneller Gymnasium, it looked as if the State Fair Lady Roadrunners were going to push right past the Crowder Lady Roughriders to advance to Friday’s Region 16 semifinal in Jefferson City against top seed Three Rivers.
State Fair scored the first six points after halftime to make it a three-point game and then after a timeout, Crowder freshman Kourtney Shipley hit a 3-point shot.
On the ensuing State Fair possession, though, sophomore guard Jazzmyn Elston made a shot in the paint and her subsequent celebration proved to be too much for one of the officials, who called her for a technical foul.
That was her third personal foul and then 2 minutes, 14 seconds later, with 5:56 remaining in the third, Elston picked up her fourth personal on a player control foul (Crowder’s Maia Wright stepped in and took it), requiring State Fair’s leading scorer to sit on the bench until the fourth quarter.
Crowder went on a 14-2 run after Elston’s technical foul en route to a 73-58 victory.
“I wasn’t real pleased with how we came out of the locker room (second half),” Crowder head coach Tina Wilson said. “We talked about how we needed to come out of the locker room well, and we didn’t. We let them score the first three possessions and then we turned it over our first two. I wasn’t real happy with that, but I thought after the timeout, they responded. Shipley hit a big 3 right after the timeout and from then, we started playing much better. We played in spurts a lot tonight. Luckily, we had more good spurts than they did.”
Crowder (13-18) faces Three Rivers (24-3 overall, 10-0 Region 16) for the third time this season. Keep in mind, though, that Crowder played tough with Three Rivers in both contests until the Lady Raiders had a big quarter to put the Lady ‘Riders away — a 31-15 fourth quarter in the first, a 32-17 third quarter in the second meeting.
Three Rivers remained No. 22 in the final NJCAA Division I poll of the regular season.
“Three Rivers is 10-0 and they’ve only lost three games all year,” Wilson said. “They’re obviously a very good team, but I also think it’s wide open and I think anybody in our region can win if they get hot at the right time. We’re excited that we get a chance to play Friday, excited that we get another chance at Three Rivers. We’ll go up there and give our best effort.
“We have played them close and we let it get away from us, both times. That’s a tribute to them. They’re a good team and they put you away when they can. Like I told our kids, even tonight, you just have to better than them for 40 minutes. All the rest of it doesn’t matter. Records don’t matter. All that matters is that you play better than your opponent does for 40 minutes.”
Against State Fair, Wright and Maegan Bandimere each led the Lady ‘Riders with 14 points and Elle Williams added 13, as Bandimere and Williams made four and three 3-point shots, respectively. Bethaney Gilkey added nine points and Aubrie Ayers and Alex Vogt each had eight.
Elston paced State Fair with 15 points.