The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

March 3, 2014

Pierce City seeks revenge against Crane in state playoffs

Pierce City and Crane renew their rivalry in girls basketball on Wednesday night in the sectional round of the MSHSAA Class 2 playoffs.

You can bet Pierce City isn’t pleased with recent results.

The Pirates visited Pierce City on Jan. 27 and came away with a 77-58 victory

Last season, Pierce City, at this juncture in the playoffs, missed a last-second layup that would have produced overtime at Republic High School.

The Pirates scuttled three more foes in winning the state championship.

This contest between Pierce City (21-7) and Crane (27-1) is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Carthage. The winner faces Plato or Bakersfield at noon on Saturday at Drury University in the quarterfinal round.

Pierce City-Crane brings together very close friends in coaching — Pierce City’s Rob Guerin and Crane’s Jeremy Mullins.

Said Guerin on Monday: “We’re close friends. I believe for three years we were roommates in college (Missouri Valley of Marshall). We still hang out together. Our families do activities together. Now, on Wednesday night, we’ll get after each other.”

Mullins isn’t giving points.

“I can’t do it. I really believe Pierce City is an improved, quality opponent. They play hard. Winning 20 games means they’re doing something right.”

Crane extended a 37-34 halftime advantage in the earlier meeting this season.

Said Guerin: “Crane graduated just one starter (all-stater Maggie McMenamy is at College of the Ozarks). They still play 10-12 girls. We have to play our best game and hope they’re off. We can’t take off possessions. We have to play the entire game.

“Our girls have improved during the season,” Guerin said. “They quickly understood their roles and adjusted to playing time.”

Emma Lander, a 5-foot-10 sophomore, replaced McMenamy in the lineup, Mullins said, and is Crane’s leading scorer with a 14-point average.

Probable starters for Pierce City, Guerin said, are 5-9 senior Mattie Brottlund, 6-0 junior Amber Wagner, 6-1 senior Christine Younker, 5-7 freshman Christine Stellwagen and 5-9 junior Bailee Hayward.

Top two players off the bench, Guerin said, are 5-10 junior Shania Hogan and 5-5 freshman Kayla Portillo.

Younker is averaging more than 19 points and leads Wagner in rebounding. Hayward, the point guard, is averaging 14 points and more than eight assists.

Pierce City this season shared the Spring River Valley Conference title with Jasper at 8-1. Younker and Hayward were starters for last season’s 22-8, 9-0 edition.

Guerin, who’s assisted by Joey Graves, is in his second season at Pierce City after five as boys coach at Crane.

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