Lady Cats end 23 year drought

Harrisonville girls secures their first conference title since 1999

By Christopher Tenpenny

For the first time since 1999, the Harrisonville girls’ basketball team has been crowned conference champions following a 50-26 win over Pleasant Hill Feb. 22 at Harrisonville.

The Lady Cats have made its full-court “Blue Swarm Storm” defense a staple of its team success and it was during a defensive drill, Harrisonville head coach BryAnn Middleton reminded her team what the goal was this season.

“Day one, while they were doing defensive slides, I had them look up at the conference banner and how we were going to add 2022,” Middleton said. “Every single day we’ve been working toward that goal. It’s so special watching them, they are just phenomenal. I’m so happy for them.”

The Lady Cats went 11-1 against Missouri River Valley (MRVC) opponents, but still needed to beat Pleasant Hill to ensure they won the conference out-right.

The game did not start easy as Elie Yoder picked up two fouls in the first 90 seconds of the game. Leading scorer Madison Johnson was not far behind Yoder, as Johnson picked up her second foul four minutes into the game. With two key players out early, it would have been easy for the Lady Cats to focus on the negatives. Instead, they fought through and got out to a 25-12 halftime lead.

“That’s just their mental toughness,” Middleton said. “We know they are physically strong, playing full-court defense for four quarters, but their mental toughness was on display today. That was really cool to see.”

Senior Desta Mitchell nicknamed “the warrior” by her coach, took over for the Lady Cats scoring 17 points and bringing down nine rebounds. With two players in foul trouble and the Lady Cats only playing seven players, Mitchell took control making seven of her eight shot attempts.

“She was such a stud tonight,” Middleton said. “You can give her any defensive assignment and she takes it with pride. She rebounds, she finishes and it’s been so cool to watch her grow this season.”

The second half went much like the first half with Harrisonville outscoring Pleasant Hill 26-14 and winning the game 50-26. When the final buzzer sounded, the celebration started.

“All through my high school career, this is what we’ve been working toward,” Harrisonville senior Kylie Meeks said. “To do it is so surreal and crazy. I can’t even put it into words because it feels so good.”

The win improves the Lady Cats record to 22-4. Last season, with nearly the same team, the Lady Cats went 10-12. Meeks said it’s the bond between the player and coaches that has led to the turnaround.

“Honestly, it’s our bond,” Meeks said. “You can’t find another team as close as us. We are all friends and we play for one another. Nobody takes selfish shots. We just want to win.”

Middleton said the success they have sustained this year is something her team will take with them
after high school.

“It feels good, it feels really, really good,” Middleton said. “I’m extremely happy for them. The skills they’ve learned this year, they are going to take with them for the rest of their lives. They are going to wake up every morning wanting to do the best at whatever they do.”

With the conference won, the Lady Cats shift focus to the district tournament. The Lady Cats were scheduled to play Clinton Tuesday at Harrisonville. A win would put the Lady Cats in the Class 4 District 13 Championship game tomorrow night against either Notre Dame de Sion or Nevada at Harrisonville.