The People's Tribune

Clopton Collects Fourth Place Hardware at State

The Clopton Lady Hawk displayed great heart, grit and determination as they faced a couple of tough battles in MSHSAA Show-Me Showdown last weekend at Missouri State University in Springfield.
The Lady Hawks collected fourth place following a pair of narrow five-point losses in Class 2 action to Thayer and Hartville.
Clopton faced (28-3) Thayer in the semifinal at JQH Arena on Friday evening.
Thayer went on a 5-0 run to start the game. A three-pointer from Jillian Lockard started a 6-0 run for Clopton as Caragan Lockard also lit the scoreboard for the Lady Hawks. Calynn Lockard knotted the game again later during the opening eight minutes. Thayer managed to reclaim the lead before the end of the period for a 10-8 advantage going into the second.
The lead went back and forth a handful more times through the second stanza as Caragan and Calynn each netted four points. Kaitlyn Kuntz landed a three-pointer while Taylor Akers and Jillian Lockard each contributed two points each as Clopton edged Thayer 15-14 in the quarter.
The Lady Hawks went into the break trailing Thayer by just one point, 24-23.
Akers put Clopton ahead in the third with a three-pointer. The Lady Hawks maintained the advantage throughout the third quarter as Kuntz sank a three and Caragan Lockard knocked down three big baskets and a free throw.
The Lady Hawks entered the final quarter with a three-point lead after outscoring Thayer 13-9 in the quarter.
The Lady Bobcats reclaimed the lead with about 4:20 remaining on a three-pointer by Madyson Kerley. Clopton managed to go ahead one more time on another basket from Caragan Lockard, but Clopton went cold from the field.
The Lady Hawks had a one point lead until Thayer’s sharp-shooter Julie Stone stole the ball and scored to put the Lady Bobcats up by a point, 44-43, at the two minute mark.
Clopton struggled to regain possession after that. Thayer scored with about 35 seconds remaining to go up by three points. The Lady Hawks had to foul three times to force a one-and-one which was missed and Jillian Lockard snagged the rebound with 17 seconds remaining and a three-point deficit.
Jillian attempted the three to tie the game, but the shot was tipped out of bounds. Clopton had another shot with 7.9 seconds the Lady Hawks had another opportunity remaining, but Jillian’s three-pointer was blocked and Thayer maintained control.
The Lady Bobcats went on to win 48-43 and advanced to the title game.
In the postgame interview on TribCast, Coach Deaven Streed said that she was proud of the girls for how hard and how well they played against a high-caliber team that managed a timely run at the end of the game.
Caragan Lockard played all but one minute of the game and led Clopton in the loss with 17 points and three rebounds to earn the Community State Bank TribCast Player of the Game.
Other scoring: Kuntz, 9; Jillian Lockard, 6; Calynn Lockard, 6; Akers, 5.
Clopton was about 46 percent from the field to Thayer’s 54 percent. The Lady Hawks were also 4-14 from three-point range while Thayer was 6-10. Julie Stone led Thayer with 21 points in the win.

Clopton took on another tough team in (27-5) Hartville in the third place game from the Hammons Student Center.
Similar to the semifinal game, the lead changed several times over the first eight minutes. Unfortunately, Clopton racked up several fouls in the first quarter. The Lady Hawks put Hartville players on the free throw line eight times in the first quarter and they converted five of those chances.
Megan Harrelson got the Lady Hawks on the board in the first with a three-pointer and added another bucket in the opening quarter. Jillian Lockard had two baskets and two free throws in the first as Clopton trailed 14-12 after the first eight minutes.
Despite both teams scoring 13 points from the field in the second quarter, the foul trouble continued for Clopton so Hartville was able to add five more points from the charity stripe.
KK netted seven points in the second and the three Lockards each had a bucket in the period. Hartville ended up outscoring Clopton in the second quarter 18-14. The Lady Hawks trailed 32-26 at halftime.
Clopton once again came out on a mission in the third quarter.
Calynn Lockard got things going with the first basket of the second half. After a basket by Jillian Lockard, a bucket by Kuntz tied the game at 32 each. Jillian struck again to put the Lady Hawks on top where they stayed through the remainder of the third.
Kuntz also sank a pair of three-pointers to notch eight points in the frame and Jillian scored three baskets as Clopton’s defense also cooled scoring on the other end. The Lady Hawks outscored Hartville 18-10 to take a two-point lead into the final quarter, 44-42.
Hartville’s leading scorer got hot in the fourth. Grace Culver tied the game with the first basket of the quarter.
Clopton clawed back and reclaimed the lead one more time on a trey by Taylor Akers, but Hartville’s Skylar Divine immediately responded with her own three-pointer to tie the game at 47. Culver scored again to claim the lead for Hartville.
The Lady Hawks remained close, trailing by just one point a few times, but kept having to foul for Sadie Chisum for possession. She drained 6-7 to keep the game out of Clopton’s hands.
Kuntz played all 32 minutes of the third place game and led the way with 15 points and two steals. Jillian Lockard played all but one minuted and notched a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. She also had a pair of steals in the loss. The girls each earned the Community State Bank TribCast Players of the Game.
Other scoring: Calynn Lockard, 9; Akers, 6; Caragan Lockard, 6; Harrelson, 5.
The semifinal and third place games are available in the TribCast archive online at Video and photo highlights of both games are available on the Trib’s Facebook page.

“I would first like to start by saying how extremely proud I am of this group of girls,” Streed remarked. “It has been such a blessing to be able to be around such an energetic and motivated group of young ladies. When interviewed during the preseason I made a statement that I really wanted to help develop my girls into determined, compassionate, and successful young women in all aspects of life not just in the basketball world. I have been in awe all season long at the growth each of my players and their ability to work hard in all aspects of their lives whether it be basketball or in their academic studies and other organizations.”
Streed noted the weekend was a wonderful experience for everyone.
“We fell short by five points in each of our contests,” Streed pointed out. “I truly feel that we were capable of winning both contests, however, we just did not have that timely run at the end of the game that we had in some of our other playoff games before this weekend. I feel like my girls were prepared and executed our game plan accurately in both games. We discussed after the games how handling these loses is much easier when we know we came out and gave maximum effort and worked hard to execute the plan we had come up with and practiced all week.”
Streed added the girls knew each team had key players who had to be shut down and did a fairly good job of accomplishing that.
“Although we are a bit disappointed with the outcome of the weekend, we had a great run and a heck of a lot of support from our community as well as surrounding communities and that meant the world to us as well. We are so very grateful for everyone who took the time to drive to Springfield to support us in the Final Four,” Streed concluded.

Streed pointed out that the seniors on her team she has coached for four years – two as head junior varsity/assistant varsity coach.
“These girls came in and started surprising me from the start of basketball workouts the summer of their freshmen year. The year before these girls entered high school our 2015 team made a state run. With many of those players returning for their junior and senior seasons that could have been quite intimidating for girls that were barely removed from eighth grade.”
Streed pointed out that one of their first practices included scrimmaging against the varsity girls and her junior varsity girls were never intimidated and played their hearts out.
“They weren’t afraid or timid from the very start and that’s how they continued to play throughout their high school careers.”
Streed provided the Trib with remarks about each of the seniors she will be losing this season including: Kaitlyn Kuntz, Jillian Lockard, Calynn Lockard and Allison Hunter. She also recognizes senior Bethany Klopcic who manages the team.

The following are Streed’s remarks about each girl.

Kaitlyn Kuntz has been a 4-year varsity starter. She has continuously led our team on the court by her defensive aggression as well as her grit and determination to get the job done each and every time she steps on the court. Kaitlyn played a shooting or what we call a 2 guard her freshmen and sophomore years but took over the role of being our point guard the past two seasons. She made huge strides the past year and has really strengthened both her ball handling skills and her ability to make reads and big passes to set up teammates to be successful. Few people remember that Kaitlyn also had to undergo shoulder surgery the summer between her sophomore and junior season. She truly is one of the toughest kids I have ever met playing through shoulder dislocations and a displaced pelvis on a few occasions as well. She has always been so dependable on the court often guarding the other teams best player, being able to stay in games without fouling out, and handling the ball to close out tight games. Kaitlyn was also recognized early in the season on the achievement of her 1,000 point.

Jillian Lockard started varsity for us the past 3 years. Jillian has been a huge offensive threat for us and has had some huge games for us particularly this season scoring as much as 30 points in a game. We depended on her a lot to score and to play a very active on the boards. Jillian is extremely athletic and could double as both a forward and a guard which helped us play the type of tempo that made us successful. Jillian has worked hard each year to improve her shooting and ability to drive and pull up. She has aspirations to play in college and I am very confident she will be successful wherever she ends up playing! Jillian too achieved her 1,000 point in the first round of districts.

Calynn Lockard has started varsity the past two seasons. I think as far as growth goes Calynn has made the most improvement in her high school career. Calynn had to go up against a former all-stater (Ashtyn Lagemann) in practice everyday her first 2 seasons and was able to really develop into a very solid post player for us. She started coming in early in the mornings during the fall of her Junior year to work and develop her skills. Along with her playing ability Calynn became one of our biggest vocal leaders. She was the one who pepped up and rallied the girls before each of our games. This was a huge aspect of our success this season and I am so proud of all she has accomplished.

Allison Hunter has been extremely dedicated to this program especially this season. Allison practiced with us the first 3 weeks of season knowing that she would be unable to play in any of our games due to a scheduled thumb/hand surgery. Allison is going on to play Softball next year for John Woods Community College and really needed to take care of this repair right after softball season concluded. Allison was told that her rehabilitation would likely take 4 months but with hard work she was released to play and practice in late January. Having missed most of the season I know Allison didn’t likely see as much playing time as she would have liked to but she played a tremendous role for us on the bench. Allison stayed engaged in all games and helped rally and cheer on the girls on the court in all of our contests. She was a huge leader in that aspect and that just makes me so extremely proud as a coach. The willingness to be a great teammate and support your team goes so far in team sports. I will truly miss her active role in that in future seasons.

Lastly, I would like to take a minute to recognized my 5th senior, my manager Bethany Klopcic. Its rare these days to be able to find kids that will be committed to something even though they might not receive a whole lot of recognition for it. Bethany has been completely committed the past 2 years and made nearly every single game. The team and I would have been lost without her help from filling water bottles and running errands to keeping our score book. She really did a great job!

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