The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 26, 2013

Former roommates lead Pierce City, Crane girls into playoffs

By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer

— The winning coach may take the losing coach to dinner — well, eventually — after Pierce City and Crane clash on Wednesday night in a sectional game of the MSHSAA Class 2 girls basketball playoffs.

Pierce City (22-7) and Crane (26-3) are scheduled to tip off at 7:45 in the first-round game at Republic High School.

Neither team should lack supporters. The boys game at 6 p.m. matches the same schools.

Rob Guerin is in his first season as the Pierce City girls head coach. The Eagles are making their sixth appearance in the playoffs with a third place in 1998.

Jeremy Mullins is in his seventh season at Crane. The Pirates have made at least the opening round nine times and were fourth in 2008.

Said Guerin: “I believe we were roommates for three years (at Missouri Valley College in Marshall). We’re still good friends. Our kids hang out. They play on the same youth team.”

So much for friendships. The Eagles right now want to beat the Pirates and vice-versa.

The Eagles, 9-0 in the Spring River Valley Conference, have a 12-game winning streak and haven’t lost since Jan. 21 — you can guess to whom — 60-50 on the road.

Said Guerin: “It will be a tough game. ... a full game. We’ll need a complete game. ... whomever pulls out this win.

“We actually play similar styles,” Guerin, who’s assisted by Joey Graves, said. “Both teams mostly play a man-to-man on defense. Both of us like the transition game.

“He (Mullins) has a very deep ballclub,” Guerin said. “He ran about 10 players at us the last time.”

The Pirates, Mullins said, have lost to Marionville, Kickapoo and Republic. The Pirates were 7-0 in the Southwest Central League.

“I believe we’re very balanced and the girls really like to play defense. They’ve bought into our system,” Mullins said. “We have a bunch of legs. We probably will play 10 or 11 players.

“Pierce City is coached very well,” Mullins said. “Their post players are outstanding. The girls are tough-nosed.

“It should be a heck of a game,” Mullins said.

Probable starters for Pierce City are 5-foot-4 senior Becca Hatfield, 5-10 sophomore Bailee Hayward, 5-8 senior Emily Ashley, 6-0 junior Christine Younker and 6-1 senior Krishna Merriman.

Relief, Guerin said, comes from 5-9 junior Mattie Brottlund and 5-11 sophomore Shania Hogan.

Merriman is averaging about 17 points and eight rebounds, Guerin said.

Maggie McMenamy, 5-9 senior who’s moved past 1,000 career points, is the Crane leader in scoring and rebounding with respective averages of 12 and 7.

Allie Hagler, a 5-5 junior, and 5-5 classmate Riley Israel are among the returning cogs, Mullins said.