The Blue Eye Lady Bulldogs ended their season 27-5 Friday, after a 58-43 defeat by Tipton in the Class 2 state semi-finals.
Due to a decision by MSHSAA, third place games were not played as originally planned – putting an end to the 2019-2020 season for the Lady Bulldogs.
The decision was one of a few from MSHSAA regarding last weekend’s Show-Me Showdown. Another was that only 150 wristbands would be given out to each team, and no one without a wristband would be allowed in the arena. It wasn’t easy for head coach Ken Elfrink to decide who would get a wristband – the majority went to players’ families and then the school’s faculty.
“Even though we were limited in the amount of fans,” Elfrink said. “It was still a great experience for the kids.”
Friday’s game was the Lady Bulldogs’ first ever appearance in the final four. They came into the game with a 27-4 overall record and battled Tipton with a 25-5 record. Elfrink said they ran into a good Tipton team that was just playing really well.
“We competed,” Elfrink said. “We played hard.”
Blue Eye won the tipoff Friday afternoon and put up the first few points. Tipton wouldn’t let it last for long though. The teams tied at three, tied again at five, and Tipton would eventually take a 6-5 lead in the first quarter.
Tipton worked to a five point lead with 1:30 left to play in the first. Sophomore Avery Arnold hit a three, but Tipton answered with one of its own. Sophomore Riley Arnold came back with a three to end the first with a 2-point deficit. Tipton had a 13-11 lead after the first eight minutes.
Tipton got things started in the second, only to be answered by Blue Eye senior Kohnnar Patton. Patton’s 2-point shot put her at 2,000 points for her career. By the end of the game, she would end her career at Blue Eye with 2,011 total points.
Tipton hit a three after Patton’s shot, but sophomores Makayla Johnson and Kyla Warren hit two shots back to back to tie the game for the third time. But it didn’t last long. Tipton would hold Blue Eye to just two additional points in the next four and a half minutes – each off free throw attempts from Avery Arnold. In that same time, they’d put up eight of their own. At the half, Tipton led Blue Eye 26-20.
After the break, Tipton’s success continued. They put up three points early, but Blue Eye answered with 7 before they could score again. After three quarters of play, Blue Eye trailed Tipton by 14.
Tipton got the first shot of the fourth, though Blue Eye answered. The final eight minutes were a battle, but Blue Eye struggled to close their 14 point deficit. They got within 12 points at one point, but wouldn’t come any closer.
Patton ended the game with 15 points, Avery Arnold had 13, Riley Arnold put up 6, Warren finished with 5, Johnson and senior Jaelyn Brown each added 2.
Despite the fact the game didn’t end as any of the Lady Bulldogs would have liked, Elfrink said they were lucky they even got to play. The Class 4 and 5 Show-Me Showdown, which was scheduled for this next weekend, was canceled Monday morning.
Elfrink said they wanted to win their last game, but that can’t always happen.
“It is what it is,” Elfrink said. “It was a great year.”