A night before taking on North Central Missouri College for the Region XVI title, Archers head coach Shelly Ethridge did not hide the impact of what last Saturday’s game would mean for her program.
“This is the goal our players set from Day 1,” Ethridge said entering the regional championship. “It would be heartbreaking to not finish what we started.”
Unfortunately for the Archers, heartbreak was the end result as STLCC fell 88-78 in overtime. This marked the second consecutive year in which the Archers split the regular season games with North Central, only to lose in the regional final.
Sophomore guard Deborah Holcomb scored 29 points and grabbed a career-best 19 rebounds in what was her final game at STLCC. She was one of four Archers to reach double figures in scoring, joining freshman Khalia Miller and sophomores Dajae Williams and Khalilah Morrow.
For Williams, Morrow and Holcomb, their efforts were how they would cap their STLCC careers, as the Archers will look to fill their void, along with fellow sophomores Tiara Bradley, Lorielle Little and Brandy Ward.
Miller finished the day with 17 points, but battled through an uncharacteristically difficult shooting day. She connected on just six of a career-high 31 attempts from the field, including a 2-for-14 showing from 3-point range. The Archers converted 29 percent of their field goal attempts for the game.
The contest remained tight throughout, as the Archers fought to a 31-31 tie at half, and remained deadlocked through the second half. In overtime, however, the Archers were just 2-for-11 from the field, including 0-for-6 from 3-point range. North Central, buoyed by the Archers’ shooting struggles and eight trips to the free-throw line during overtime, outscored the Archers 16-6 during the extra period. North Central was led all day by forward Imani White, who finished with 20 points and tied Holcomb with a game-high 19 rebounds.
The loss came despite a second half of the season that was particularly kind to the Archers. Ethridge’s team entered the championship having won six consecutive games (all by 19 or more points) and had defeated North Central 99-69 on Feb. 7, in one of the team’s most complete performances of the year.
STLCC entered the regional tournament ranked 14th nationally, and finished the season 24-7, marking the most wins ever for an Archers women’s basketball team.