The Purdy Lady Eagle basketball team is on the cusp of achieving the school's second state basketball title in the last 30 years. The Lady Eagles defeated Clopton 68-55 Thursday night to advance to the Missouri Class 2 state game.
"I thought we started very well tonight," said Purdy Head Coach Grant Young. "We played a tough schedule this year, and I believe that it prepared us to handle these big game situations. I think Clopton was surprised with our team speed, and we used a three-quarter court press that gave them a little trouble."
Purdy jumped out to a 18-7 lead in the first five minutes. Brooke Swadley scored 6 points in the opening frame to help the Lady Eagles build a 20-14 first quarter advantage. Purdy extended their lead, outscoring the Lady Hawks 13-9 in the second frame to lead 33-23 at the intermission.
"As a team we knew we had to step up and play hard to win," said Swadley. "When a team makes a run, you have to rely on each other to persevere."
Clopton would not go quietly into the night.
Purdy took a 37-28 lead on two free throws by Shelby White with 6:18 left to play in the third period. The Lady Hawks responded with a 15-2 run over the next three minutes, hitting four pointers to take a 43-41 lead.
"Our girls showed a lot of character coming back in the third quarter," said Clopton Head Coach Larry Lagemann. "We didn't make any halftime adjusts. Our comeback was spurred, because we just executed. Credit Purdy, they are a quality, quality, quality squad. They hit their free throws down the stretch to secure the win."
Purdy would answer with a 6-1 run over the final three minutes of the third quarter to lead 49-44 heading into the final period.
"Clopton was too good a team not to make a run at us," said Purdy senior guard Addy Roller. "We had to rely on our teamwork to win. When you play as a team, you are always hard to beat."
Purdy extended its lead to 56-46 two minutes into the final period, sinking 14 free throws in the period to ice the game.
"We're not ready to go home," said Swadley. "Right now basketball is our life. We have the best fans and live in the best community. We want the championship."
"It will be our last game together," said Roller. "We need to play hard, fire each other up and win a title.
"This has been a fun group to coach," added Young. "I know these girls won't let me down. Win or lose they will give me their effort."
Roller led the Lady Eagles in scoring with 29 points. Also scoring for Purdy were: White, 18 points; Swadley, 13 points; Audrey Patton, 8 points; and Shelby Scott, 2 points.
Purdy (25-6) will face Couch (23-6) for the state title on Saturday in Columbia at Mizzou Arena. Tipoff is slated for 8:20 p.m.