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By Russ Green-Sports Editor
A record-breaking season for the Richmond Lady Spartans came within 6 seconds of making more history Friday night. However, Kelsey Stuenkel’s bucket at the buzzer sent all of that crashing to the ground as top-seeded Higginsville survived the Class 3, District 14 final with a 46-45 win over the No. 2 seed Richmond at the RHS gym.
It was Higginsville’s fourth win over Richmond this season, but the defending MRVC East and district champion Lady Huskers had to fight their way past the young upset-minded Lady Spartans.
Richmond’s 18-10 record is easily the best for a Lady Spartan basketball squad and coach David Littrell said it is a season he will not soon forget.
“There aren’t enough words to express all of the appreciation I have for this team,” he said. “They are a very special group and they have represented their team, school and community in such a positive manner. I will be at a loss not stepping back in the gym seeing all of these girls beginning their practice warm ups on their own, as they did each day, but they have etched a place in my mind on what successful teams do and they will always have a special place in my heart for all of their efforts this year.”
Higginsville (26-2) seemed to be in control as the fourth quarter began – holding a 38-29 advantage. Back-to-back buckets – one a 3-pointer – by Madison Cole, who ended the night with a team-high 13 points, began Richmond’s comeback as the final period opened. The Lady Huskers answered with a pair of field goals, but the Lady Spartans countered with an 11-0 run sending the packed gym into a frenzy as Richmond took a 45-42 lead and a step closer to its first girls’ district title ever and first for the school since 1972.
Sam Davis ended the run for the Lady Huskers with her lone basket in the fourth quarter with 8 seconds remaining to pull Higginsville within a point. A missed front end of a one-and-one situation by Richmond 2-seconds later gave the Lady Huskers the last possession. Higginsville worked its way to midcourt and found Stuenkel down low. The ball left the hand of the Lady Husker junior just before the buzzer, bounced off the backboard and through the net – ending the upset bid and breaking the hearts of the Lady Spartans and their fans.