The California Lady Pintos returned to action after a two week rest and hosted the Class 4 District 10 tournament as the No. 2 seed.
The Lady Pintos defeated the Boonville Lady Pirates in the semifinals with the help of a big run in the fourth quarter. Then, in the championship game against the Southern Boone Lady Eagles, California went back and forth with the Lady Eagles, but the game slipped away in the closing minutes.The Lady Eagles won the district title and ended California's season.
As the No. 2 seed in the tournament, California earned an automatic bye into the semifinals and took on the No. 3 seed Boonville Lady Pirates on Thursday night. The Lady Pintos won the semifinal game over Boonville 49-34 to earn a berth back into the district championship game.
The stage was set for the district final between California and Southern Boone. The winner would move on to the sectional round of the Class 4 state tournament to play either Eldon or Fatima on Tuesday night. Southern Boone had beaten California 59-49 in the first meeting of the season on Dec. 13.
Both teams traded shots and defensive stops throughout most of the first half, with Southern Boone taking a 20-15 lead at halftime with the help of their three star players -- Chloe Bukowsky, Emilee DeHass and Majayla Garrett-Dudley. The two teams continued to go back and forth in the third quarter. In a quarter with seven lead changes and three ties, Southern Boone took a 33-30 lead into the final period.
The score was 38-32 Southern Boone with just five minutes to play in the game when California guard Hailey Rademan turned things around for California. Rademan scored a layup on a backdoor cut and then made a steal in the backcourt and raced behind the three-point line to make a three-pointer. Rademan's five-point individual run made it a one-point game.
However, the Lady Eagles came up with stops on California's next six possessions and hit two corner three-pointer to take a seven-point lead with two minutes to play. The Lady Pintos tried to extend the game by putting the Lady Eagles at the foul line. Southern Boone didn't fold and knocked down 12 of 14 free throws in the final two minutes to win the game 58-45 and the district title to end California's season.
Kierstyne Lawson had 10 points, three rebounds and an assist. Hailey Rademan had nine points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal. Lauren Friedrich had six points, eight rebounds, five blocks and two steals.
After the game, an emotional Sangster said his players competed all game long and did everything they could to beat the Lady Eagles. The difference in the game came in the fourth quarter when Southern Boone scored eight straight points and made their free throws from that point on.
The Lady Pintos ended their season on Saturday with a record of 22-6 and ranked as one of the top ten teams in the Class 4 for most of the year. Sangster said his three seniors, Alayna Butts, Lauren Friedrich and Ella Percival, were the driving force to all their success this season. In Sangster's words, they made the Lady Pintos who they were in 2023 and who they hope to be in 2024.
"I am very proud of how all the girls played last night and throughout the whole season. They did everything they could to do the jobs they were tasked with. They are all great teammates and young ladies. I told them that after the game. We didn't get to where we wanted to get to, but we've got nothing to hang our heads about," Sangster said. "We will greatly miss Ella, Lauren and Alayna next year. Their leadership and character will leave a large hole in this program. They molded this locker room into what they wanted to be remembered as - family. That's who we are as a team and that's what they've helped our program to be."