By Mike Phillips
When was the last time a sixth seed knocked off a top-seeded team in the Kaysinger Conference Basketball Tournament championship game?
It’s likely never been done before, that is until Friday night. The sixth-seeded Sacred Heart Lady Gremlins upset the top-seeded Windsor Lady Greyhounds 38-35 in the W-K Kaysinger Conference Girls Basketball Tournament championship game at the Fred E. Davis Multipurpose Center.
There were heroes aplenty for the 8-14 Lady Gremlins, but none bigger than sophomore guard Claudia Cox. She may have scored just four points, but she pulled down a team-high 15 rebounds, dished out five assists and made four steals.
On top of that, Cox had the unenviable task of guarding 6-foot Lady Greyhound senior Taylor Ebeling, who finished with 13 points, all in the second half and seven of those came at the free throw line.
In the semifinals Tuesday night, Cox hit the game-winning shot to beat Tipton and advanced the Lady Gremlins to the championship game.
For the Lady Gremlins, it was their first Kaysinger Conference Tournament title since the 2008-2009 season, while Windsor came in as the defending champion. The Lady Greyhounds won the district championship and advanced to the state sectionals last year. Earlier this season, Windsor beat Smith-Cotton in the third-place game of the Marshall Red Cross Tournament and had beaten Sacred Heart at Windsor.
The Lady Gremlins had luck on their side. They missed the front end of three one-and-one free throw situations early in the fourth quarter. From that point on, Sacred Heart made seven of eight down the stretch to hang on for the victory.
Guard Gabbi Ebers missed the front end of two 1-and-1’s early in the fourth, but then made two of two from the charity stripe and Katelin Sunnarborg made five of six from the line. Ebers had a huge trey at the outset of the fourth quarter and Sydney Smith scored four of her team-high 15 points in the fourth quarter.
Windsor sophomore 6-foot-1 forward Shelby Williams led all scorers with 18 points and Ebeling added 13, comprising 31 of Windsor’s 35 points.
The game shaped up as Windsor’s size against Sacred Heart’s speed.
It took both teams over three minutes to score and the Lady Gremlins led 9-8 at the end of the first quarter.
Williams and Rachel Ferguson scored back-to-back baskets at the end of the half to give the Lady ‘Hounds a 15-11 lead at halftime. Sacred Heart went ice-cold in the second quarter, making just one shot in nine attempts yet they were still in the game.
A three-point play by Ebeling at the start of the third quarter gave Windsor its biggest lead at 18-11. Sacred Heart switched to a half-court press and trap that launched a 10-0 Sacred Heart run with two baskets each by Kayla Holland and Smith and one each by Cox and Ebers to retake a 23-18 lead.
The Lady Gremlin speed was beginning to take over the tempo of the game. Sacred Heart led 23-20 after three quarters.
Ebers’ trey to start the fourth made it 26-20, matching Sacred Heart’s biggest lead of the game. Ebeling made two free throws with 4:16 left to cut the gap to 30-28.
Despite a technical on Holland on a loose ball pileup, three missed free throws on 1-and-1 situations and Windsor being mistakenly awarded possession of the ball on an alternating possession call, Sacred Heart never trailed the rest of the way and pulled off the stunning upset.
In earlier games Friday, fourth-seeded Tipton upset second-seeded Stover 61-40 in the third-place game and fifth-seeded Cole Camp upset third-seeded Green Ridge 43-33 in the consolation championship.
Emily Pritzel led Cole Camp, 15-11, with 13 points. Kaleena Logan had nine and Kaylee Kestner eight. Ragin Dillon led Green Ridge, 14-8, with 14 points and four treys. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.