SHOW-ME SHOWDOWN: Freshman Kelsey tough to handle; Oran falls to East Buchanan 66-37

Oran's Traci Hency (41) and East Buchanan's Gracie Kelsey wrestle for a loose ball in a Class 2 semifinal game at the Hammons Student Center in Springfield.
David Jenkins ~ Standard Democrat

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Guarding East Buchanan freshman Gracie Kelsey proved to be Oran’s downfall on Friday.

At 6-1, the freshman put on a show for the limited crowd in attendance, finishing with a game-high 26 points on 10 of 14 shooting. She also neared a double-double, with eight rebounds, and was a pest on defense with five steals, in the Bulldogs’ 66-37 win in the semifinals of the Class 2 Show-Me Showdown, in Springfield.

From the get-go, there was nothing the Lady Eagles could do to stop Kelsey from scoring, even though she added that they were doing a lot.

“They were doing everything,” Kelsey said. “They only had me with one girl at the very beginning of the game, but they progressed, and they knew what to do.”

In the first quarter, Kelsey got things rolling, scoring 10 points in the frame.

Leading 4-0 with 6:58 to go, the Lady Eagles went on a 6-0 run to take a 6-4 lead with 6:22 left.

Junior Katie Webb put the Lady Eagles on the board after drawing a foul and making both of her shots at the charity stripe to start the run.

A 3-pointer from the left-wing, from sophomore Hope Woodfin, then gave the Lady Eagles; it’s one, and only, lead, at 5-4, with 6:29 remaining.

Seven seconds later, Oran (25-6) then turned defense-into-offense shortly after that, as senior Taylor Lowes drew a foul off an East Buchanan (28-3) turnover, to make it 6-4.

The Bulldogs, though, responded right back, to the tune of an 8-0 run, forcing Oran head coach Larry Boshell to use a timeout.

Junior Lillian Schilling then made back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Bulldogs a 10-6 lead, while Kelsey drove into the lane and finished her layup, to make it 12-6 with 4:41 left in the quarter.

Coming out of the break, senior Heather Gosche scored her only points of the contest, on a layup near, the cut the deficit to four, 12-8.

Then after another Kelsey basket, junior Katie Webb made a free-throw line jumper to cut the lead to four again, 14-10, with 3:50 left.

Another layup from the Bulldogs pushed the lead back to six, before a steal and layup from freshman Grace Davis cut the lead to four, yet again, at 16-12 with 2:10 left

However, that would be the final points of the frame for the Lady Eagles.

The Bulldogs closed the frame on a 7-0 run to take a 23-12 into the second.

Five points from Kelsey during that run, ignited the Bulldogs, while Ishmael added a layup, as well, to equal the total.

A strong opening frame led into the second, as Oran’s struggles continued.

Kelsey scored 5 of the 10 points in the frame and proved to be a matchup nightmare for the Lady Eagles.

With 6:12 left in the half, Kelsey showed off her post moves as she worked her way to the basket and scored to make it 25-14.

She then showed off her outside game, as she stepped beyond her normal range — near the basket — and knocked down a deep 2-pointer from the top of the foul line, to push the lead to 13, and force Boshell to use another timeout.

Out of the timeout, an answer still wasn’t found, as the Bulldogs continued to attack and get easy looks.

Freshman Maya Watkins cut right to the rim, without an Oran player in sight, to score off a layup and make it 29-14.

Webb ended the scoring drought for Oran, with 3:05 left, on a short jumper in the paint, to make it 30-16. Webb’s bucket was the first for the Lady Eagles since the 6:36 mark of the period.

East Buchanan outscored Oran 10-9 in the second quarter and led 33-21 at halftime.

Even after the break, problems still showed for the Lady Eagles.

East Buchanan scored the quarter’s opening six points, to lead by 18, 39-21, with 5:58 remaining in the third.

A deep 2-pointer from senior Kaylee Payne ended the early burst from the Bulldogs, but the lead was still a lopsided one, at 39-23.

East Buchanan led 59-28 at the end of the third.

“They came out, and their post player did well,” Boshell said. “I think she was better than we saw on tape. She made some good moves and rebounded well. She was strong in the post, and we didn’t shoot it real well.”

East Buchanan plays for its first state championship, today, at 4:30 p.m., at the JQH Arena.

“It’s something that we set out to do last summer, and to be honest, I think some of these young ladies have had this dream since they were little girls,” East Buchanan head coach Cori Elms said. “To be able to be the first team from our school to represent us in this way is just an incredible feeling for them.”

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ORAN (37) — Katie Webb 13, Heather Gosche 2, Taylor Lowes 2, Kaylee Payne 5, Hope Woodfin 5, Kennedi McVay 3, Grace Davis 5, Traci Hency 2. FG 12, FT 11-15, F 19. (3-pointers: Woodfin, McVay. Fouled out: none)

EAST BUCHANAN (66) — Lillian Schilling 8, Gracie Kelsey 26, Audrey Elifrits 6, Addisyn Ishamel 17, Maya Watkins 6, Kinzie Woodside 1, Madison Jessen 2. FG 23, FT 18-23, F 15. (3-pointers: Schilling 2. Fouled out: none)

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