After a difficult 55-42 loss to the unbeatable communication, defensive power and drive of Whitfield, the WGHS women’s basketball team made a comeback, defeating Smithville 54-33 and securing third place in the 2022 Show-Me Showdown.
The Show-Me Showdown is the annual Missouri state championship tournament, and was held at Missouri State University’s JQH Arena March 18 and 19.
“Playing for third place isn’t exactly what we wanted, but ending my basketball career on a win totally makes up for it, and seeing the boys win was super special, too,” senior Ellie Paloucek said.
Paloucek won the single game scoring record for Webster Groves at the Show-Me Showdown with 27 points.
Head coach Joshua Spuhl had a similar sentiment to Paloucek.
“I feel good about how we played Saturday. The team was able to show how we can really play and end the season on a win,” Spuhl said.
Unlike most teams that weekend, the most tear-jerking part was not the awards ceremony at the end – it was when senior Jenna Clark, who had surgery on her ACL just a few weeks ago, scored the first basket of the game.
Clark, who has played on Varsity since freshman year, tore her ACL in February. For anyone else, this would have been the devastating end of a career. However, Clark’s positive attitude, unmatched drive and dedication to her team kept her motivated, and she acted as a mentor and role model for underclassmen on her team.
Smithville agreed to exchange basket’s at the beginning of the game, allowing the Statesmen to win the jump ball and pass to Clark, who was waiting by the net to score. Webster then allowed Smithville a layup, evening the score back out, and Clark returned to the bench amidst hugs from her coaches and teammates.
“It brought tears to my eyes. Jenna is the sweetest, most humble, poised and positive kid you will meet. She has been the team captain and her injury happened right before playoffs started. She has a full ride golf scholarship to Maryville, straight A’s, and more faith in her little finger than I do in my 54 years of life,” team parent Tracy Paloucek said.
“The moment was definitely bittersweet. I was more nervous than any game I have played before because I did not know what to expect. At first, I did not want to do it because the pain of putting that jersey on again after weeks of accepting that I would not play again was going to be very hard. Now, I am incredibly thankful I did because being with my senior starters one last time was exactly what I needed to end my basketball career,” Clark wrote.
Another highlight from the weekend includes freshman Emery McReynolds’ three point buzzer beater at the end of the semifinal game. Despite the tough competition, McReynolds and the entire team quite literally played until the final second.
“These games are something special to be a part of because only a small amount of high school students get to experience going to state. I love every bit even though the girls team didn’t finish exactly how we wanted to. It is a memory that I will always hold on to and look back on,” senior Eliza Maupin said. Maupin will be continuing her basketball career at Kansas State University next year.
This will be Emily Goben’s first year on ECHO staff, but she made several contributions while taking journalism class her sophomore year.