After taking out Eugene in the first round of the Class 3 District 8 Tournament Feb. 24 at Blair Oaks High School, second-seeded California fell 48-21 to third-seeded Blair Oaks Feb. 26 in the semifinal round.
"It was a very emotional game for us," California Coach Bobby Sangster said. The Lady Pintos went into district play without two of their starters, senior Sydney Deeken and junior Kelsey Roush, who were injured. Then senior Meleigha Caudel, also a starter, was injured midway through the opener against Eugene, leaving California minus three key players.
Even so, Sangster said, "I think our mindset was fantastic going into the game against Blair Oaks. We were tied after the first quarter and down by 11 at the half; we held them to 16 points in the first half. I think our girls did a bang-up job of doing their best. We just weren't able to do enough in the time we had. Blair Oaks made some shots. But our girls really competed and that's all I can ask for. I'm very proud of them."
California junior Kamryn Koetting sank a 3-pointer midway through the first quarter to claim the first points of the night, 3-0. LeeAnn Polowy was the sole scorer for Blair Oaks in the first quarter, hitting three free throw shots to even the score at 3-3. While California had only two points in the second quarter, a layup from sophomore Mara Caudel, the Lady Pintos held the Lady Falcons to 13 points, six were Polowy's. Blair Oaks led 16-5 at the half.
The Lady Falcons went on to outscore the Lady Pintos 15-5 in the third quarter and 17-11 in the fourth to take the win. "I think all of our girls stepped up," Sangster said. "Some in leadership roles, some in scoring, some in defense, but everybody played unselfishly. Even though we lost another player in our first district game, the girls didn't miss a beat. To have to then play our biggest rival with so much adversity was difficult to overcome, but the girls fought and no matter the outcome, they played as a team, so I couldn't be prouder. Hopefully they will look back on this season and draw something positive from it, because they battled and fought through adversity, which is how life often is."
California (17-9) was led by freshman Kayla Allison with four points. Koetting and sophomores Renee Roberts and Katie Imhoff each had three points.
Sangster added, "It if hadn't been this particular group of girls, this season wouldn't have gone as well as it did. These girls are strong in their convictions and they all came to play and gave their very best."
Blair Oaks (20-7) was led by Polowy with 19 points and Lauren Viessman with 17. The Lady Falcons went on to lose the district championship contest 55-33 to top-seeded Boonville Friday. Boonville will play Palmyra at 6 p.m. today (Wednesday) at Class 3 Sectionals at Mexico High School.