Story and photo by Mark Carpenter –
The world of sports can often times be quite unpredictable and no one needs to tell that to Coach Shannon Staggs and his North Adams Lady Devils eighth grade girls basketball squad. Even more unpredictable can be tournament play, especially at the junior high level, and the eighth grade Lady Devils found that out the hard way last Saturday afternoon.
After completing a perfect 14-0 regular season and winning a Southern Hills Athletic Conference championship, the Lady Devils began the SHAC Tournament with an easy 44-12 win over Eastern Brown in the quarterfinals on Feb. 8. That set up a semi-final match up in Ripley with the number five seeded Fairfield Lady Lions and the Lady Devils picked a bad time to have a bad day. An offense that had averaged 54.4 points a game was stifled and held to only 20 as the Lady Lions pulled off the upset and advanced to the tournament championship game, knocking off North Adams 30-20.
“Unfortunately today was not our day,” said Coach Staggs. “We were getting some good looks, but the shots were just not falling. We were trying to pound the middle, but Fairfield did a good job of packing it in and in order to get the ball inside you have to hit the outside shots, and that didn’t happen for us.”
“I told the girls before the game that it is a great honor to wear the North Adams uniform, but it does come with a big red bullseye on the back. When you are one of the best girls basketball programs and a number one seeded team, everyone wants to knock you off.”
In the Feb. 11. loss, the Lady Devils did lead after the first quarter 8-5 on the strngth of two baskets from Delaney harper and a three-pointer from Wylie Shipley, but it was an offensive struggle from that point on. North Adams scored just two points in the second period and fell behind 12-10 at halftime.
The Lady Devils recovered a bit in the third stanza, getting baskets from Shipley, Brianna Robinson, and Karissa Buttelwerth, but a pair of three-pointers by Fairfield’s Samara Cannon kept the Lady Lions in front 22-17.
When the North Adams offense could only muster one basket in the final quarter, their season came to an abrupt close as the Lady Lions racked up eight points and claimed the 30-20 semi-final win.
Harper led the Lady Devils with 8 points in the loss, with Shipley adding 5 and Robinson 4. Cannon led Fairfield with 17, including a trio of three-point goals.
“”The 20 points was our lowest in two years with this team,” said Staggs. “We finished 15-1 and in two years with this group they had a career junior high record of 29-2, plus back to back SHAC regular season championships.”
5 7 10 8 –30
8 2 7 3 –20
Fairfield (30): Crum 1 0-0 2, Flint 0 1-2 1, Cannon 7 0-0 17, Hester 4 0-0 8, Hattan 1 0-0 2, Team 13 1-2 30.
N. Adams (20): Buttelwerth 1 0-0 2, Call 0 1-2 1, Robinson 2 0-0 4, Shipley 2 0-0 5, Harper 3 2-7 8, Team 8 3-9 20.
Fairfield (3): Cannon 3
N. Adams (1): Shipley 1