If the first two showdowns between the Era and Muenster girls basketball teams were any indication, the third meeting between the two teams is sure to have some drama Friday, Feb. 14.
After Era took care of business against Poolville on Tuesday, Feb. 11, both squads have one district loss apiece — at each other’s hands.
Era took the first matchup 47-36 at Muenster on Jan. 14, but Muenster evened the score Jan. 31 with its 31-26 win at Era.
The two teams will battle it out Friday, Feb. 14, at 7:30 p.m. in Sanger.
While there won’t be an official outright district champion due to the district’s rules, seeding for the playoffs is on the line and Era head coach Don Neu said that top seed can be very valuable.
“To me, the district championship isn’t as important as your seeding in the playoffs,” Neu said. “The seeding ends up being the ultimate goal, but I’m not sure there is a whole lot of difference between the No. 1 or No. 2 seed this year. It’s not as big of deal as it has been in the past. There are some good teams in our region though that are going to be tough. Every round scares you. There are no guarantees for anything.”
Against Poolville, Era was impressive from start to finish for a 54-23 win.
Era held a 28-15 lead at halftime and held Poolville to just eight total points in the second half, outscoring it 26-8.
Neu said the team struggled to start the game due to the senior night recognitions, but once it got going, he said he was proud of how the team played.
“We missed a lot of easy shots and we played hard, but anytime you’re off with your focus, it affects you offensively,” Neu said. “We played really good defense the whole game and our shots started dropping. It’s hard on senior night with all the emotions going. I can understand that.”
Briana Knabe had 10 points in the first half, but bumped her head midway through the game and didn’t play much of the second half as a precaution.
Neu said Knabe will be good to go Friday and lauded Sandra Christian and the rest of the team for stepping up its play without Knabe.
Christian was held to no points in the second meeting against Muenster, so her game-high 25 points were a welcome sight.
Maddie Chisum also had nine points.
“I couldn’t have been more proud of my group because they stepped it up,” Neu said. “My other players stepped up. It was good to see. Sandra got some open shots and knocked them down. She had to take charge more with Briana out, so that was good to see. It was very important. The other girls got some confidence seeing that they could play without Briana.”
Neu said there are many challenges to playing a team for a third time in a season.
“I have a feeling we will both change one or two things, but ultimately it’s going to come down to who executes the best,” Neu said. “We’re both really good defensive teams, but I think whoever can get on a little run or two will be the difference in the ball game. It’s difficult enough to play a team you think you’re better than three times, but when you play someone you think you match up real well with, it’s very tough.”
Era is the defending district champion and Neu said without a doubt there will be some bragging rights accrued for the winner of the game and that his team is amped up to get the last laugh.
“That’s what it’s all about and that’s part of the fun,” Neu said. “You always want the bragging rights. I think it will make both of us better as long as we both come out of it healthy and what better way to prepare for games down the road than to play a good team.”
Patrick Hayslip can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip