Wellsville Wellsville High senior Kimberly Hughes couldn't hold back her tears when she hugged Eagle coach Bernie Smith after losing her final girls basketball game Thursday night at WHS.
Smith was a little more stoic after Wellsville fell, 53-38, to Kansas City Christian in its Class 3A sub-state semifinal, probably because, despite the pain, her team had "probably just played its finest game of the season."
"That's about as well as we've executed all year," said Smith, whose 7-14 team battled the second-seeded Panthers (18-3) for three quarters but eventually ran out of gas.
"Unfortunately, the final score won't show how hard we played. But I'm extremely proud of all these girls, especially the seniors."
A technical foul for an illegal substitution against K.C. Christian just before halftime helped the Eagles close a deficit to 21-19, then that momentum carried over into the second half as Wellsville tied the game at 23 on a Hughes layup with 6:27 to go.
But Wellsville's spurt was short-lived. The Panthers, who gave Class 6A Lawrence High all it could handle earlier this season before falling, 54-49, at LHS, went on a 7-0 run to regain control.
From there, K.C. Christian's size down low and rebounding advantage proved too much. And, just to make sure, guard Bethany Schwab tallied a game-high 16 points.
Wellsville was led by sophomore Erica Patton's 12 points. Senior Lacey Roecker added 10, and senior Krystle Barthol and Hughes each scored seven.
Osage City 53, Oskaloosa girls 40
Things went much the same way for Oskie's girls in a season-ending loss to top-seeded Osage City. The Bears (10-12) trailed by just four at the start of the second half and matched the 20-1 Indians' aggressiveness step for step.
However, costly turnovers down the stretch coupled with solid free-throw shooting by the Indians left little doubt that the top seed would advance to Saturday's championship.
"They're awfully good," Oskie coach Rod Stottlemire said. "But for us to go out against a team that has only one loss all season, who hasn't had a game within 20 points I believe since Christmas, and give them a game until the fourth quarter says all you need to know about our kids."
Kari Bellinger, Jessica Layden and Whitney McGinnis each scored eight for Oskie.