That arctic blast that rolled through the area late Tuesday afternoon not only dropped the spring temperatures back to winter, but also cooled off the shooting for the Hardin-Central Lady Bulldogs.
It couldn’t have come at a worse time as the Lady Dawgs saw their season end for the second consecutive year in the Class 1 sectionals. Hardin-Central hit just 25 percent from the field in a 47-39 loss to Keytesville at the Fred E. Davis Center in Sedalia.
The Lady Tigers, now 17-12, advance to Saturday’s quarterfinal at Missouri Valley in Marshall against 25-4 Marion County, while Hardin-Central, which entered the game ranked 10th, ends the year with a 23-5 mark.
In addition to their shooting, the Lady Bulldogs had foul troubles to add to their woes Tuesday. Keytesville took advantage by hitting 13 of 17 free throws in the game, including a perfect 6 of 6 in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Hardin-Central visited the stripe just 6 times in the game, and converted half of them.
The Lady Bulldogs’ foul problems also forced them to call off the full-court pressure, and also allowed Keytesville center Heidi Koehl to roam the lane. She responded with a game-high 19 points, with 14 of those coming in the second half as the Lady Tigers erased a 19-11 Hardin-Central lead at the half.
“We had to lay back a little and we knew that Koehl could hurt us inside if we had to lay back,” Hardin-Central Coach Ken Layman said. “Then we got a couple of girls in foul trouble with three fouls and that’s what we had to do, so we never had an answer for her in the lane when she got the ball.”
However, the shooting woes were the biggest problem for the Lady Bulldogs. Hardin-Central hit half of its 18 3-point attempts, but were just one for 13 inside 10 feet, and 4 of 16 from 11 to 15 feet.
“I didn’t have enough girls looking to shoot and that was the difference in the game,” Layman said. “If they’re going to lay back on us and pack the lane, we’ve got to score the 15-foot shot, or at least take it. There were too many times, we didn’t even look to take it. We missed some layups and shots right under the basket – just rushing them and things like that – early game jitters, but those things come back to haunt you later.”
Both teams struggled early with Hardin-Central holding a 9-6 lead after the first 8 minutes, but Keytesville came back to take a 10-9 lead early in the second quarter and hold it until Layman called a time out with just under 4:30 remaining in the half.
The chat seemed to help, as the Lady Dawgs came out with Reanna Newham hitting a 3-pointer from the left corner to begin a 10-1 run. That surge helped Hardin-Central take a 19-11 lead at the intermission.
The Lady Bulldogs stretched their lead to 24-13 just a minute into the second half when Newham, who ended the night hitting 6 of 11 from the field in a 14-point effort, picked up her third foul.
A few minutes later, Brooke Derstler, who scored a team-high 16 for the Lady Dawgs, was also whistled for her third which forced Hardin-Central to back off on its pressure.
Keytesville took full advantage and turned a 28-19 Lady Bulldog lead with 4:17 remaining in the third, into a 33-28 Tiger lead entering the fourth quarter. Cassie Penrod led the Keytesville charge with a pair of 3-pointers as she scored 8 of her 10 points in that frame.
Koehl posted 8 of her points, and Megan Schupback hit for 6 of her 14 points in the third.
The Lady Bulldogs fought back to cut the deficit to 2 points with a minute remaining in the game, but Keytesville held off any more of a comeback attempt by being perfect from the stripe.
Also scoring for Hardin-Central were Megan Layman with 5 points, and Allison Oyler with 4. Layman and Brianne McGuire also grabbed 7 rebounds apiece.
Layman said his seniors, Derstler, Newham, McGuire and Tommie Twyman, who end their Hardin-Central careers with a 92-18 record, have a lot to be proud of.
“They have nothing to be ashamed of,” he said. “They’ve worked hard. They’ve had 20-plus win seasons all four years and been to the post season twice. I just wish I could have taken them a little further because they deserve it.”
PHOTO: Hardin-Central’s Brooke Derstler battles for the ball in the lane with two Keytesville Lady Tigers during the Lady Bulldogs’ Class 1 Sectional loss at Sedalia. (Photo by Russ Green/The Daily News.)