The Truman girls were in desperate need of a spark.

Point guard Jayme Smith, who has missed much of the season with a knee injury, and her replacement, Cassie Eggers, provided it.

The Truman girls were in desperate need of a spark.
Point guard Jayme Smith, who has missed much of the season with a knee injury, and her replacement, Cassie Eggers, provided it with 6 minutes, 4 seconds left in the fourth quarter of the Class 5 District 15 championship game Friday night at William Chrisman High School.
Truman led 36-33 when Eggers hit a long 3-pointer to give the Pats some breathing room.
Kelsey Quirarte then blocked a Kansas City Central shot under the basket and fired a pass to Eggers, who found Smith near the 3-point stripe.
Smith connected on a 3-pointer, gave Truman a 42-33 lead and paved the way to a 53-42 victory.
It was Truman’s 12th district title in school history and the first since the 2004-05 season.
“We knew there was a lot of time left in the game, but when Jayme and Cassie hit the back-to-back threes, it really gave us a boost,” said Quirarte, who scored 12 points. “We needed a lift, and they gave it to us.”
The Patriots connected on just 9-of-15 free throws in the fourth period, but Quirarte and Becca Strobbe each grabbed huge rebounds following missed attempts to make sure the Patriots never lost their momentum.
“Rebounding, especially in the fourth quarter, played a big part in the win,” said veteran coach Pete Hile, whose 19-8 team will meet the champion from District 16 in a 7:45 p.m. game Wednesday at the St. Joseph Civic Arena.
“This team isn’t the most talented I have ever coached, but they just have so much heart. Every player contributed to this win tonight.”
How close was this championship contest?
Truman led 13-11 after one quarter, 22-19 at the half and 34-33 going into the final eight minutes of play.
“It was so physical out there, you couldn’t believe it,” said Truman forward Kassidy Ritchel, who practically had her jersey pulled over her head during one, early battle for a rebound.
“They were physical, they were athletic and they were good. We knew it was going to be a tight game. And it was until Jayme and Cassie hit those 3-pointers. When Cassie hit hers, you could see everyone on the bunch jump up and say, ‘Yeah!’”
Hile has been using Eggers and Smith in the same rotation when the Patriots face a quick team that turns steals into easy layups.
“We needed two good ball handlers in there,” Hile said, “and Cassie and Jayme got it done for us. Cassie has done such a good job in Jayme’s absence and we’re all so happy that Jayme is back. She means a lot to this team.”
Truman turned up the defensive intensity in the fourth quarter, limiting the 22-5 Blue Eagles to nine points.
“We did a great job defensively,” Ritchel said. “Especially in the fourth quarter. When we got the big lead, we never let up. We didn’t want it to be a close game at the end. We really played our best basketball in the fourth quarter.”