“When the levee breaks,” by Led Zeppelin seemed an appropriate song to listen to while south through the rain on Hwy. 54 to New Bloomfield for the Sturgeon Lady Bulldogs’ game against New Bloomfield’s Lady Wildcats for the district championship.
Well by 2:15 p.m. Saturday they levee had truly broken, ending Sturgeons’ five-year district championship drought as they washed away New Bloomfield 54-49, winning their first district championship since 2013.
Sturgeon scored first, courtesy of a Jahna Burris layup, followed by a Camyron Orf three-pointer and though New Bloomfield narrowed the gap and tied it at the end of the first 14-14, the Lady Bulldogs never fell behind.
In the second quarter, Orf dropped a rain of three-pointers on
the Lady Wildcats and helped Sturgeon cement their lead.
“No, we didn’t see that coming,” said New Bloomfield Coach Brett Craighead afterward regarding Orf’s game-high five-three pointers. “Not at all.”
“Camyron picked the right time to step it up,” said Sturgeon Head Coach John Kruse. “Not only has she become the team’s floor general, but she sank at least three three-pointers every
game of the district tournament.”
Along with steady production under the basket from Burris, along with Emma Bright and Lauren Mills, Sturgeon was ahead by 10 in the middle of the second before settling in to a six-point, 26-20 halftime lead.
Timely scores by Lizzie Ellington helped Sturgeon get its 10-point lead and change back by the end of the third, when they led 39-26.
In the fourth, New Bloomfield found the key to Sturgeon’s defense but every time they got within five points, Sturgeon, often powered by Orf, Bright and Mills’ free-throws, would stretch the lead back to 10. The last glimmer of hope was at 1:02 in the fourth when they narrowed the score to 50-45, Sturgeon, before a series of dead-on free throws punched Sturgeon’s ticked for their 6 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 28 sectional contest in Mexico versus Cairo.
Bright led Sturgeon with 13 points, followed by Burris and Orf with 12 and Mills with eight.
New Bloomfield’s Madi Craighead led the Lady Wildcats with 15.
“Sturgeon did what they had to do to win,” said Coach Craighead. “They kept their heads, spread the ball around made their free-throws and avoided turnovers. We were worried about their post player, but when you have so many girls that can shoot like they did, they got around us.”
Kruse was happy to agree.
“Camy’s threes changed things for us,” he said. “We had a balanced shooting attack with her, and Jahna on the outside, Lauren’s free throws and Emma and Kaylee Cranmer in the paint.”
Orf, when asked about her increased output said he father had inspired her before the tournament started to push herself more than any time before. “He said to let go of my fears and try and break my limits tonight and I did.”
Burris when asked if she and the other Lady Bulldogs were intimidated by the five state championship banners and maybe a dozen final four ones hanging from the walls of the Lady Wildcats’ gym said no. “Not really, I don’t think we even noticed them.”
Kruse put it this way: ” Before the game I just told the girls they belonged there. ‘The moment is not too big for you, it is up to you to take it.”
The team has grown considerably he said. “Besides the threes, they’ve become more disciplined and controlled and understanding of what we need to do to win games and more ready to do it.”