Marceline Sends Lady Eagles To Sidelines
By David Sharp
A strong second half propelled a solid Marceline Lady Tiger team to a 53-49 win over Knox County in Class 2, District 6 at Schuyler County first round district play.
The Lady Tigers (15-10) reeled off three scoring runs adding up to 22 points, mostly in the final three quarters.
Seniors Hannah Dale, Stacey Leckbee, Amber Ausmus and Kelsey Bryant played their final basketball games in a Knox County uniform.
The back-to-back Tri-Rivers Conference girl’s champions were eliminated in the first round of district play both seasons.
Knox County (16-7) came out determined not to let the one point upset loss to North Shelby a year ago happen again.
Kathleen Hinkle poured in eight of her game high 15 points, leading the Lady Eagles on a 15-5 first quarter run. The Lady Eagles held a 15 point lead at one juncture of the first half.
Marceline showed some of their famous Black Rage aggressiveness in the second quarter. The Lady Tigers pressured Knox County into turnovers. Marceline powered to a 16-10 second quarter.
The Lady Tigers took momentum with them to the half time dressing room. Knox County clung to a 25-21 half time lead. Stacey Leckbee stemmed the tide somewhat with a pair of home run balls.
Marceline scored 15 unanswered points from the close of the second into the third quarter. The Lady Tigers outscored Knox County 30-19 during the second and third quarters.
The Lady Eagles held an 11 point lead with two minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Knox County was not as aggressive during the middle portion of the contest. The Lady Eagles missed too many interior scoring chances and free throws to beat a good team.
Marceline got to the free throw line six times in the fourth quarter to one for Knox County. The Lady Tigers went 4-6 from the line in the third and 5-6 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter.
Knox County missed their one third quarter free throw. Marceline led 35-34. Knox County fought back within two points late in the game. A pair of missed free throws could have tied the game with 13 seconds to play in the game.
Knox County would have to have made all of their fourth quarter free throws to send the game to overtime. The Lady Eagles wound up 12 of 24 from the charity stripe. Marceline sank 15 of 23 free throws for 65%.
The Lady Eagles had three chances to tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter, but could not sink point blank shots. “We had a good start. We came out and got on them early,” Knox County coach John Weaver said.
“It’s a game of runs. They ended the first half on a 7-0 run,” Coach Weaver said. “They made a big run at the end of the third and at the start of the fourth quarter. We responded to it, but it was a little too late,” John Weaver said.
“It’s tough. The kids played hard. I hate it, especially for the seniors,” said the likely two time Tri-Rivers Conference girls’ Coach of The Year. “We have had two really good years in a row.”
“It’s the name of the game. If you aren’t on top of your game at district time, you are going to get beat,” John Weaver said. Marceline started off 1-6 but finished their year on an 8-4 roll. The Lady Tigers topped a state ranked Salisbury team in the process.
The evenly matched District 6 girl’s field saw three first round upsets. Only eventual champion Scotland County wound up winning as the higher seed during first round play.
“Marceline is a good team. I give them a ton of credit. Their kids really played hard,” John Weaver said. Marceline starts three juniors and two sophomores. Knox County will graduate both their starting guards and a key reserve.
“Stacey Leckbee was a four year starter. She was a great defender and a great leader,” John Weaver said talking about his four seniors.
“She is somebody who really cares about winning. Cares about working hard and getting everyone else involved.”
“Stacey had been the starting point guard for four years. Someone else will have to step up and fill those shoes,” John Weaver said. “They will be big shoes to fill.”
“Amber Ausmus gave us a spark in our last seven games,” Coach Weaver said. “She got us on a winning streak. She helped us win that conference title.”
Amber Ausmus was one of the most promising freshmen in the area before suffering a knee injury in her final regular season game against Atlanta.
The three point sniper improved her overall game and became one of the Lady Eagles better players at the end of the season.
“She got better on the defensive end. Amber got some steals and rebounded from the guard position.”
“She understood her role, worked hard and did everything we asked of her.”
The only regret Hannah Dale expressed to the coaching staff was not playing her freshman season. The all district softball infielder gave Knox County three solid basketball years, the final two especially.
“Hannah (Dale) was a good defender from the guard position. She is tough. She is a gritty competitor. Hannah is just a good athlete.”
“Everybody was important on this team from freshman to senior. Kelsey Bryant didn’t play a lot of minutes, but she gave this team a lot of effort in practice,” John Weaver said. “She gave us some quality minutes when we needed them this season.”
“It’s tough to see all four of them go. Everybody loses seniors. We just need to build on this year, take it as a learning experience and get better.”
Abby Gauthier and Kendra Gladback led Marceline with 12 points each. Kathleen Hinkle sat out the last five minutes of the game with an ankle injury. Hinkle led all scorers with 15 Knox County points.
Stacey Leckbee fired in nine points. Hannah Strange and Devin Gudehus scored eight points each. Hannah Dale scored four points. Kelsey Cahalan scored three and Amber Ausmus added two Knox County points.
The Lady Eagles will return two full time and one part time starter. Freshmen Taylor Lincoln and Sarah Dooley showed a lot of promise. McKaiya Miller and Kelsey Cahalan will likely enter the off season as top contenders for the point guard slot next season.