The Montrose Lady Blue Jays controlled the boards and harassed Verona into numerous turnovers in Saturday's Class 1 girls Sectional game at State Fair Community College in Sedalia. Still, Verona trailed by only 41-39 with 6:25 to play in the fourth quarter when Tristan Carrasquillo fouled out.
|With Verona's short bench exposed, Montrose stayed undefeated and cruised to a 61-50 victory to advance to the state semifinals in Columbia on Thursday.|
|For the second year in a row, Montrose traveled to Sedalia to knock on the door to the final four. In 2009, Exeter slammed that door and went on to win the Class 1 girls state basketball championship. This year, against another Ozark 7 Conference champion, the Lady Jays fought their way past the threshold to qualify for the Show-Me Showdown.|
|The Montrose gunners opened in sync with Katelyn Bracher and Kendall Hart nailing threes to lead the Jays to an 8-2 lead. Verona answered with a 10-0 run to close out the period, and the Lady Wildcats led 12-10 at the first break. Jenna Chadd and Carrasquillo both scored 4 points in the quarter-ending sweep.|
|Carrasquillo bombed from the left corner to extend the run into the second period, and the Lady Wildcats opened a 15-8 lead. Montrose began to exert its inside superiority, and the Lady Blue Jays chipped the lead down to a single point at halftime, 22-21.|
|Carrasquillo and Chadd accounted for all 10 Verona points in that frame with a pair of treys and deuces respectively.|
|Montrose flipped the momentum to start the third quarter, using an 8-2 run to establish a 29-24 lead with 4:29 on the clock. Verona was staggering against the inside game and losing the battle in both rebounds and team fouls. Morgan Eye powered Montrose with 10 points in the third, scoring two baskets in two seconds as she swiped an inbounds pass and scored to force a Verona timeout with 5:56 on the clock.|
|Chadd cut the lead to 29-26 with a jumper from the right wing, but then Carrasquillo collected her third foul and Jori Dodson her fourth in short order.|
|Eye scored on a neat jump, stop and bank in the lane, but Chadd answered with a long trey to keep Verona close at 33-31. Bracher sank two free throws when Verona's Jessica Smith picked up her third foul, and Eye sank two from the line after Carrasquillo was whistled for her fourth.|
|Trailing 39-33 in the final 10 seconds of the quarter, Smith found Taylor Pinkly loose for a layup and bonus to end the third period, and Verona trailed by only 39-36 at the final break.|
|The two teams jockeyed for the initial 90 seconds of the 4th quarter, but when Carrasquillo fouled out, the air leaked out of Verona's balloon. Montrose applied a crushing 12-5 squeeze over the next 4:14, scoring three times in the lane on offensive boards and accompanying sticks. Smith popped in a trey from the left corner to pulled Verona back within 6 with 1:54 to play, but Montrose was not to be denied.|
|Eye poured in another 15 points in the fourth quarter, and in a fitting game-capsule ending, she scored the game's final goal off an offensive rebound just ahead of the buzzer, and the Lady Blue Jays had the 61-50 win.|
|Eye finished as the game's high scorer with 29, while Chadd paced Verona with 19.|
|Verona finishes the season at 24-6. Undefeated Montrose (29-0) carries the best record in Class 1 into a semifinal match against Naylor on Thursday at 3:20 p.m. in the Hearnes Center at Columbia.|
Verona scorers: Jenna Chadd 19; Tristan Carrasquillo 14; Jessica Smith 10; Taylor Pinkly 3; Jori Dodson 2; and Beth Bigham 2.
|Montrose scorers; Morgan Eye 29; Kendall Hart 10; Felicia Foster 9; Katelyn Bracher 7; Victoria Engeman 4; and Kristin Bellinghausen 2.|