For two weeks, we have been documenting how things were expected to pan out for the area basketball programs. Junior High programs wrapped up their season with tournament action, while the varsity teams now know where they will play in their postseason tournaments.
Paris Junior High made a run at their District Tournament and fell in the final game Thursday night. The girls, who were projected as contenders for their tournament, lost early in the week. However, all was not lost on those efforts. The Paris Lady Eagles were able to make use of the freshman players moving up, extending the short bench that has been an issue for the Lady Eagles all season.
The Lady Eagles took down Fountain Lake in their early week game, and the freshman contributed right away. Brailey Forst, who was none too happy about their tournament loss, took it out on varsity opposition, scoring eleven points in her debut. Paris took the win 51-46, but because of other conference results, they were not locked into the fourth seed. To secure that spot, they would need to take down the number two team in the conference, Perryville. It was a makeup game that was rescheduled from earlier in the season. The Lady Eagles went toe to toe with the Lady Mustangs, tied at the half and trailing by one after three quarters. However, in the fourth quarter, Paris held Perryville to six points and pulled away for a signature win 56-44. Paris will be the fourth seed in the conference tournament and will not have to play on the opening night in Lamar.
The Paris boys have had a tough go of it in conference play. They were set in their position entering the week. However, on Senior Night against the top-seeded Fountain Lake, they played their best ball of the season. Travar Ambler played shut down defense, and Nick Bazyk was a consistent scorer and Bo Baine got in a groove from a distance as Paris took it to the wire. Luke Trusty took charge with time running low, then went and hit two free throws as the Paris Eagles notched a signature win 5-51 over Fountain Lake.
The Eagles added some depth for their Friday game when the freshmen moved up, but they could not keep the momentum up as they dropped their final game to Perryville. They will be in action in the first round of their District Tournament.
Scranton and County Line played each other the last week of the season, giving fans something to look forward to in the rivalry. The Scranton Boys needed to win and win decisively to change their position in the standings. However, it was all County Line in the evening; the Indians were hitting shots from all over the court early and cruised in the second half to a 63-49 win. Tyler Duggar scored 20 points for the Indians in the win, and Mitchell Keezer added 16 and Josh Smith added 12.
For Scranton, Dakota Pickartz led the way with 16. County Line is the top seed heading into the postseason and the Scranton Rockets will be the third seed in a very competitive grouping.
On the Ladies' side, it was the game of the year as the Lady Rockets hosted the Lady Indians in the last conference game of the season. County Line came out of the locker room, hitting from long range, sinking five three-pointers in the opening quarter. Scranton made a run of their own, and it was close until just before half, when County Line looked to be getting momentum. In the second half, Scranton again made a run, and with seconds remaining, had the lead.
It was Scranton's Libby Kremer and County Line's Martha Neumeier that went toe to toe all evening, and down the stretch, it was no different. Four quarters would not be enough, and in overtime, it looked like Scranton may escape with the win. However, Neumeier would drive the length of the court to keep them alive, and they headed to a second overtime.
In the second overtime, Kremer hit a key bucket and it looked as though the game was over, but County Line got the past ball midcourt and called a time out. The officials put a second back on the clock, but the Lady Indians did not get a good look on their final shot, and the Scranton Lady Rockets took the regular-season title 50-49 in double overtime. Neumeier and Kremer each finished with 20 points each and will likely see each other again in the District Tournament Finals next week.
Lady Indians Head Coach Ryan Castleman was absent for the game due to illness, but County Line has a lot of experience on their bench that made sure the team was ready for play. Lady Rockets' head coach Richard Harrison was very proud of his team. He was quick to compliment the coaching staff from County Line and the effort from Neumeier. When asked about the play of Kremer, Harrison reiterated what he always says about the young lady, "She just plays with so much heart. She is such a competitor."
All area teams will be in their district tournaments this week, trying to advance to the regional round.