COLUMBIA — Smithville senior Maddie Nelson spoke about the final basketball game of her high school career as if it were just another day.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
In many ways, it was.
In typical fashion, Nelson did a little bit of everything — she scored nine points, dished out a couple of assists, grabbed three rebounds and had four steals.
But for Nelson, the player Smithville coach Trevor Mosby credits with the resurgence of the basketball program — and its three straight trips to the state tournament — Friday was about more than numbers. In fact, Mosby later said, it was symbolic of the end of an era.
At least the Warriors closed it out in style, finishing with a 54-35 win against Drexel in the Class 4 third-place game at Mizzou Arena.
“I’m happy to get here, but I’m also disappointed we didn’t play in the championship game,” Nelson said. “It’s kind of bittersweet.”
A day after suffering a one-point loss to Webb City in the semifinals, the Warriors bounced back and never trailed in the third-place game.
Paige Imhoff led the Warriors, 26-5, with 18 points, and Bethany Pierce made four three-pointers on her way to 15 points.
Class 4 boys: third place: Sikeston 55, Liberty North 54
Not long after a loss in the Class 4 third-place game — one that felt eerily similar to a defeat the day before — Liberty North coach Chris McCabe cycled through a few of the key plays in his head.
As he rattled them off, a few more seemed to come to him. In this type of game, the list could have dragged on forever.
But once again it boiled down to this: A typically stout Liberty North defense had a chance to seal a victory but instead allowed a game-winning basket in the final 10 seconds.
This one came courtesy of Sikeston leading scorer J.T. Jones, whose 5-footer with 7.2 seconds remaining was the difference in Sikeston’s win Friday afternoon.
Liberty North turned the ball over on its offensive possession, ensuring back-to-back one-point defeats.
“I think it was a game you can dissect in a lot of ways,” McCabe said. “Those of you here last night are probably hearing the same speech.”
The Eagles, 23-7, turned a halftime deficit into a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter before Sikeston responded with an 8-0 run. The teams swapped leads five times over the final 4 minutes.
Brinkley Jolly paced Liberty North with 15 points, and Brian Sharp came off the bench and added 11.
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