Audience of past champs spurs current team’s best game
With legends of Dover’s past watching from the stands, the Lady Longhorns of the present put on their best performance of the season.
Dover got its first win of the year by knocking of Aline-Cleo 47-35 last Tuesday night in front of its Senior Night crowd.
Among the delighted fans were members of Dover’s girls basketball state championship teams from 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005, who were recognized between games.
Names like Krista (Bullis) Peck, Keshia Holmes and Jody (Munkres) Chlouber, who were part of Dover’s run to seven consecutive Class B title games, watched as seniors Jackie Rodriguez and Alli Turner delivered what the groups of the 2000s did so many times – a win.
“It was good to finally get this one,” said Byron Randle, who, along with Jerry Sandefur, played an important role in developing the state championship teams in their formative years.
Randle now coaches the Lady Longhorns.
“We’ve gotten close a few times, but we just didn’t know how to win.”
That wasn’t the case against Aline-Cleo.
The Lady Longhorns scored the first seven points of the game and were up 10-2 after a quarter when Madi Moeller made her first of three 3-pointers.
Aline-Cleo cut its deficit to four points by halftime, but Moeller’s trey with one minute to go in the third extended Dover’s advantage back to 32-21.
The fourth quarter belonged mostly to Turner and Rodriguez, who scored 13 of Dover’s 15 points to halt any Aline-Cleo comeback attempt.
Nine of the points came from Rodriguez, including a three-point play with 38 seconds left to ice the game.
Turner assisted on the play and finished the night with a game-high 16 points.
Rodriguez and Moeller had 11 apiece.
Randle said Dover’s ability, or lack thereof, to score in the fourth quarter is what led to losses in previous close games.
“We executed a lot better on the offensive end and that led to better shot selection,”
Randle said after Dover ended its regular season with a 1-19 record.
Afterward, Randle and Sandefur were among those recognized by Sarah (Swisher) Noll, a member of the first three title teams, who addressed the crowd with a prepared speech.
Noll also noted the influence of Brad Thrash, the coach of all four championship squads. Thrash, now the girls coach at Cheyenne, was invited to the ceremony, but was unable to attend because of his current team’s game.
Dover became the first-ever girls team in the 5-on-5 era to win three consecutive state titles when it knocked off Canute 53-41 in 2003’s title tilt.
That three-year run saw Dover rack up an 89-4 record.
The Lady Longhorns just missed out on a fourth straight in 2004, but were upset 52-40 by Forgan in the state championship game.
That loss put an end to a number of streaks, including becoming the first girls team - 5-on-5 or otherwise - to win four consecutive state championships.
The loss ended Dover’s season at 30-1 and put an end to a 50-game win streak overall that included 11 straight wins at state and four full years without losing to a Class B team.
Dover bounced back in 2005 when it ran up a 28-2 record and beat Hammon 35-23 for its fourth title in five years.
The Lady Longhorns managed to get back to “championship Saturday at the Big House” in both 2006 and 2007, but had to settle for runner-up finishes to Hammon and Lomega, respectively.
On Tuesday, team members recreated old state championship photos, reminisced on the wins and recalled the sting that still remains from some of the tough losses.“
What a fun night,” wrote Kara (Sandefur) Brueggen, who played on three state championship teams and another that finished as runner-up. “Brings back old memories. Loved seeing every state champ that could make it tonight.”
Added Marcy (Gardner) Pribyl, also a three-time state champ: “I so enjoyed seeing all the girls. Love everyone of them and our time we played together. Thank you, Dover Schools for bringing us together.”