Turnovers prove costly for Lady Bruins in district tournament


Ji-Ho Lee

Over the past four years, RBHS girls basketball has established a hegemonic rule over the state of Missouri, claiming the state title in each of those seasons. But the graduation of superstars, such as Sophie Cunningham and Cierra Porter, has left the team in an unfamiliar situation: an 11-15 record, ranked 85th in Missouri and not the favorite to win the state title.
The road to Mizzou Arena, however, first passes through Sedalia, as the Smith-Cotton Tigers host the district tournament. The Lady Bruins have put on clinics against opponents at the district level, but are not favored to win even this tournament in 2016, as they entered the tournament as the third seed.
While some critics could predict a decline in success because of the loss of talented players, few could foretell a regular season as painfully uncharacteristic as this one. Characterized by inconsistency and streakiness, a three-game skid and a six-game losing streak epitomized the season.
The Lady Bruins tipped-off against the second-seed Blue Springs South Jaguars (16-9) on Tuesday night. Despite sophomore guard Payton McCallister’s 13-point first half, RBHS trailed 29-16 at the intermission.
“We didn’t come out with the mindset we needed and dug ourselves into the hole,” junior forward Madison Treece said about the slow start.
Treece, as well as senior guard Bri Ellis, described the Blue Springs South press as being particularly detrimental.
“We just turned the ball over too many times,” Ellis said. “I think as a team we needed to take care of the ball and defend better.”
In the third quarter, the Bruin offense improved, but the Blue Springs South offense improved as well. With eight minutes remaining, RBHS trailed 51-37. The 14-point deficit was too much to overcome, as the Lady Bruins lost to the Jaguars, 62-46.
“In the end, it was just too little too late,” Treece said. “This isn’t the ending we wanted for our season, but it will fuel our fire to get better for next year and fix our mistakes so we can get our desired outcome next year … Our future looks bright.”
For most of the team, the disappointing loss symbolized the end of a season, but for a trio of seniors, the game was the end of a career.
“We all wish our season didn’t have to end,” McCallister said. “We didn’t [want] to send our seniors off like this.”
Despite the disappointment, the lasting memories will be ones of celebration, not sadness.
“I will remember what a great program RBHS has become and the life lessons and friends it has made for me,” Ellis said. “Of course, I’ll remember winning state three times and being with amazing coaches and players.”