It was a little more than a year ago that the Scotland County girls’ basketball team made the long bus trip back to Memphis after a heartbreaking two-point loss to New Franklin in the Class 2 quarterfinal game at Moberly Area Community College.
This time around the road back to the state tournament started with a 59-46 win over Clopton to win the 2A District 6 championship, then four days later it was a heart stopping 37-35 win over New Haven at the Hannibal sectional. It was a little more than a week ago that these same Scotland County girls made a return trip to the quarterfinal round in Moberly, only this time coming away with a resounding 55-23 win over New Bloomfield, thus advancing to the Missouri Class 2 Final Four in Columbia for the first time in the history of Scotland County basketball.
I’ll let Chris Feeney, Donnie Middleton, KHQA, WGEM, the Kirksville Daily Express, and other fine media sources tell their version of the tournament, and I tip my hat to their fine coverage. I simply wanted to jot down my thoughts after a couple of days to think it through.
I sit up in the rafters if I can these days…and I was way up high at the Hearnes Center, to see our Tigers come out on the floor, making history in front of a great crowd of supporters that made the trip down 63 to Columbia to cheer them on. The result was a 46-22 loss to the Skyline Lady Tigers, quite possibly the best high school girls team I’ve ever watched play.
Now, fast forward to the very next night… this time our girls had the chance to bring home the 3rd place trophy… and another chance to better their mark in the Scotland County record books. Again, I will let the fine folks I mentioned above tell a better story, but in the second quarter, Scotland County found themselves down by 12, seemingly on the ropes, with Chelsea Wood in foul trouble, a lid on the bucket, and Oran hitting threes at will. Maybe it just wasn’t in the cards… again. BUT THEN… the defense made a couple of stabs…. and the offense showed life with a 6-0 run to end the half, and Scotland County was down by a manageable eight points. If you have followed this team at all, you had a feeling that the “Worm Had Turned”.
Rest assured that Cory Shultz did his thing in the halftime locker room. In the 3rd period, the resilience and fortitude of the veterans was never more apparent, as Scotland County JUMPED to life… the defense denying Oran their outside shots. Calesse Bair found her touch from long range, and with offensive help from Abi Feeney and Maddie Brassfield, the Tigers went on a 14-0 run in the 3rd quarter and never looked back.
In the 4th, with a lead that felt secure, Chelsea Wood (with four fouls) returned, the team was back together, and the third place trophy was secured with a 49-41 winner to punctuate their great run and end the year with a stellar 28-2 record, losing only to Keokuk, IA in the regular season, and to Skyline, the eventual state champion.
They never backed down see… they wouldn’t go away, and… this comeback win serves to define the character of this great team. The Scotland County Lady Tigers’ will to win was showcased on the floor of Mizzou Arena, in front of the Scotland County faithful that will always… ALWAYS remember this great group of girls that made history… on their terms.
Congratulations to Cory Shultz and the Scotland County Lady Tigers