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The MSHSAA, Class 3, Sectional was played at Truman State University on the Pershing Arena Court on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. The 22-6 Milan Ladycats were the home team, and their opponent, the 17-11 East Buchanan Bulldogs, who were the District 15 Champions.
The Sophomore, Junior laden Bulldogs, were a pesky defensive unit who kept up the pressure throughout the contest. East Buchanan was dominant on the boards, often limiting the Ladycats to 1 shot offensively. Milan had less turnovers than their opponent but could not capitalize at crucial segments in this low scoring affair. Both teams had their main go to athlete get into foul trouble, Milan’s 5’ 10” Senior, Cady Pauley, fouled out at the 2:46 mark of the fourth quarter with the Ladycats trailing, 35-34. East Buchanan relied heavily on their 6’ 1” Junior center, Gracie Kelsey, who ended up with 4 fouls and a double-double offensively, 25 points.
The contest was very close throughout, but the Ladycats only had the lead 1 possession at 17-16 with 1:40 left in the second quarter. The largest lead by East Buchanan was 10 points, 30-20 mid way through the third quarter.
Milan fought back and rallied in the final stanza only to come up short, 38-34.
The Ladycats have had a season to remember, despite falling short of their illusive goal. There were historical events along the way. First time in school history both teams won District Championships in the same season. Both girls and boys had 20 wins this season in the same year. Cady Pauley reached the 3,000 point club. Both teams won the Milan tournament this year. So many schools wish they could reach one of these accomplishments. The school and community could not be more proud of their Ladycats season.
East Buchanan won the tip and popped out to a quick 4-0 lead. The Bulldogs blanketed the Ladycats’ Cady Pauley on quick switches and double or triple team defense. Milan got on the board as Janissa spotted a wide open Gracie Dickson who splashed home a trey. Cady converted 1 of 2 charity tosses and the Ladycats knotted the game at 4 apiece. The slow first quarter came to a close as East Buchanan went back in front 6-4.
The second quarter opened up somewhat, but each squad matched the other in scoring. Milan had a great opportunity to get the lead as Cady was fouled on a 3-point attempt, but could only sink 1 of 3, drawing Milan within 1 point, 5-6. The Bulldogs kept Cady busy at the charity stripe, and she responded canning 7 of 9 in the quarter. The Bulldogs pulled ahead by 5, 16-11 before Cady zipped a pass down on the block to Emma Whitlock for 2 points. Janissa made 2 free throws, and with 1:40 before intermission Amy Pickering was fouled and made both free throws. Milan, on their 6-0 run took their first and only lead of the game, 17-16. The lead was short lived as the Bulldogs answered at the horn for an 18-17 halftime lead.
The third stanza began with East Buchanan and Gracie Kelsey scoring 9 straight points for a 27-17 margin. Milan put themselves in a hole but cut the deficit to 7 at the end of 3 quarters, 33-27. Cady had 6 points while sister Emerson dropped in a 3-pointer.
The last stanza saw Milan run off 5 straight and trail by a single point, 33-32. Cady committed her fifth foul on the Bulldogs, Gracie Kelsey, with 2:46 left in the contest with the score 35-34, East Buchanan. The Ladycats could not score the rest of the way. Milan had a lot of opportunity since the Bulldogs could only convert 3 of 10 free throws down the stretch. East Buchanan went into delay made and escaped with a win over Milan 38-34. Wildcats’ Season Came to an End.