Lady Comets claim first district title since 2014
It’s been a long time, but the Lady Comets (22-7) on Saturday emerged with the Class 4, District 10 championship, the first for Fatima since …
Lady Comets claim first district title since 2014
It’s been a long time, but the Lady Comets (22-7) on Saturday emerged with the Class 4, District 10 championship, the first for Fatima since 2014.
“This is what all the hard work is about,” said Coach Matt Baker. “We go into every season with a goal of winning districts, and it’s been a while, but this is great. We won this game as a team, and everyone should be proud of it.”
Fatima defeated a very solid Eldon (19-10) team 52-42 after defeating the Lady Mustangs in December by 10 on the road. “Seeing these girls accomplish their goal is amazing,” Baker said.
Senior guard Ellie Brune, who scored eight, said this win was significant. “I’ve been on varsity since my freshman year, and no matter how good the team was, we never did this,” she said. “And for us to do this is a really big accomplishment and highlight.”
Brune scored a three-pointer to negate one by Eldon at the game’s beginning, and it was a sign of things to come as the Lady Comets hit eight treys in the contest.
However, there was a dry spell as shots began to clang off the rim instead of showing up on the scoreboard.
That led to a 10-5 deficit, forcing Baker to call a timeout to discuss things with 2:51 to play in the first.
After that, the girls calmed down and put things together. “We got into the same situation as Thursday,” said Baker, referring to a similar stretch against Owensville in the semifinals. “We got into a little funk, and they didn’t want to share it. The offense really ground down on us. And they finally came out and shared it and turned things around.”
Brune drained another shot from downtown with just over 30 seconds left in the first to cut the lead to 12-10.
Sophomore point guard Vivian Bax then took the inbounds pass with 6.9 on the clock and hit a trey at the buzzer for a 13-12 Fatima lead going into the second quarter.
Bax had some trouble with turnovers in the semifinal, but she fought through it and came back strong in the title game though it wasn’t easy. “I was nervous the whole time, but I decided to focus and did it for the team,” said Bax. “It ended up working, so I couldn’t be happier.”
In the second quarter, the teams traded baskets. Trailing 18-17, senior forward Lydia Brunnert went to the line. She went 1-2 to knot the game at 18. That was her only point in the game, but she grabbed three rebounds.
Junior guard Lucy Crede followed up with two free throws, and Fatima had a 20-18 advantage with 4:50 to go in the half.
Brune later hit two from the line, and senior guard Emma Bower sunk a trey to put Fatima up 27-21 and force an Eldon TO with 2:46 to play in the second.
Bower, who won the three-point contest at the Great 8 Classic over the holiday break, didn’t worry about taking shots from the outside and finished with seven points, six rebounds, a steal, and two blocks. “I definitely did miss a couple of shots at the beginning, but shooters gotta shoot, and you can’t give up,” she said. “My teammates believed in me and told me not to stop, so I kept shooting.”
Armed with a 27-23 lead at the break, junior forward Alli Robertson opens the third with a three. She posted six points and 14 rebounds to go with three assists, a steal, and two blocks.
“Alli is our go-to player; everyone knows that,” said Baker. “They try to pressure and face-guard her, and if she doesn’t have a shot, that’s okay.”
Robertson agrees. “We have so many shooters, and once I collapse, I’m gonna throw it to one of these girls, and I just know it’s going in,” she said, adding she knew it would be a physical game. “I knew they were going to compete with us, but I knew we could do it.”
Bax followed with another three-pointer to push the lead to 10, but the Lady Mustangs stayed with Fatima.
With 3:40 to play in the third, Fatima held a 33-32 lead.
Crede, who finished with 13 points, hit her only trey of the game to give the Lady Comets a 38-32 lead.
“Lucy had had a huge game,” said Baker, noting that Crede started most of the year but shifted to a bench role. “For her to stay mentally engaged in the biggest game of the year and show up like that is really special. We just kept asking them to trust each other, and getting young kids to trust is hard.”
Robertson hit her second trey of the game to push the lead to 43-38, and the Lady Mustangs began to foul for possession with 2:47 remaining.
Only one problem with that: Eldon kept sending Bax to the line, and she was an impressive 5-6 to maintain Fatima’s lead.
“When you can score like that, fouling doesn’t work, and Vivian did a great job today,” said Baker.
As the final minute ticked off the clock, Fatima played keep-away, and when the horn blared, fans rushed the court to surround the players in joyous celebration.
Crede said she is grateful for all the support fans have shown this year. “They’re amazing,” she said. “It’s awesome to see them and know they want us to succeed.”
She felt the same way about her teammates. “It’s really exciting whenever you have all your teammates with you,” said Crede. “They’re cheering on everything you’re doing by your side, no matter what. If you make a mistake, they’re there to pick you up. This is my first time winning a championship in any sport, so it’s really exciting.”
Following the game and requisite photos, players recounted the victory, whether they started the game or helped in some other way.
Senior guard Claire Bexten is an excellent outside shooter who can drive the lane as a role player, but her time on the floor isn’t as important as supporting her teammates. “I’ll cheer on my team, no matter what,” she said. “It’s very special to win districts, and I’m proud of my teammates.”
Junior guard Kaitlyn Plassmeyer (KP), who at 5-2 is the least likely to start a brawl based on appearance, is often at the center of the action. “I just play tough and want to shoot,” said the fearless KP. “If they come out on me, I’m going to drive.”
She posted two points and added two rebounds, two assists, and a steal.
“KP is a firecracker, that’s for sure,” said Baker. “She is always in the mix, and I respect that.”
This championship game was challenging in a lot of ways. While not being critical of the officials, Baker noted that some calls did not go Fatima’s way, but he reminded the girls that it didn’t matter. “They weren’t calling it, and we weren’t getting it, so I told the girls they had a choice to make. We either go home, or you make the layups, even if you’re getting fouled. If you want another day, if you want another opportunity, you got to put it away and make plays. When we need it today, they got it done.”
Brunnert noted that at the end of last year, each player expressed their goals for this season. “Winning districts has been my goal since freshman year, so this is crazy,” she said.
Baker is very happy. “I’m just thrilled with these girls; hopefully, we can make a deep run,” he said.
Fatima played Southern Boone in the sectional round on Tuesday. A full report will appear next week.
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