Jacob Wade might have mixed emotions reading the newspaper today, although it’s been tough all winter.
After topping rival Fair Grove 65-56 on Saturday, Wade and the Strafford basketball team wanted a chance to avenge a lopsided sectional loss from last season in a rematch with Mount Vernon.
“Every time we see the Mount Vernon score in the paper, it sets fire to us,” Wade said. “Every time, it makes us so mad. We want to show everybody that was a fluke last year.”
Instead of a rematch, though, Strafford will have to settle with a meeting with Seneca in the 6 p.m. Class 3 matchup on Wednesday. Seneca upset top-seed Mount Vernon 51-47 in overtime in the District 12 final.
In Class 11 at Hollister, Wade had 22 points and a season-high 18 rebounds as the Indians pulled away from Fair Grove in the third quarter after a 26-26 first half.
“Late in the game, I’m not sure anybody else got a rebound on either end of the floor,” Strafford coach Mike Wilson said. “He’s a horse when he wants to go get it.”
Fair Grove ends its season at 15-12, and coach Tim Brown said it was a typical hard-nosed effort from a Wilson-coached team. The Mid-Lakes Conference schools are rivals, and it was the matchup the Indians wanted, Wade said.
“To be honest, I wouldn’t have wanted it to be against anyone else, since seventh and eighth grade, it’s been an ongoing rivalry,” Wade said.
Although Wednesday, Strafford won’t get the other team it wanted.
Fair Grove girls 64, Strafford 56
With memories of two tough losses fresh in their minds, Fair Grove made plays late to earn their second district title in three years.
Last year, Fair Grove lost to Catholic in the district final on a late 3-pointer. Then, last week, rival Strafford topped Fair Grove 64-61, eliminating any Fair Grove hopes of figuring into the Mid-Lakes title mix.
Fair Grove coach Jenny Talbert said the difference Saturday was composure down the stretch.
“All year long, we talked about it,” she said. “It sounds harsh, but in postseason, you’re out to end another team’s season. It was a horrible feeling for us last year. We didn’t want that feeling again.”
Fair Grove (21-8) avenged Catholic on Friday night and Strafford on Saturday, as four players scored in double figures.
Talbert credited guards DeAmbra Pilkinton and freshman Bailey Weaver for handling Strafford’s pressure.
Fair Grove took control in the third quarter, with just three turnovers after coughing up 13 in the first half. Shania Howler made a late jumper to go up 48-39 entering the fourth.
“Last year left a bad taste in our mouths and we just really wanted it,” said Pilkinton, who had a team-high 15 points. “It brought out a fight in us, especially losing to (Strafford) last week. We just came out ready, with a fire.”
Freshman Kaylee Larimer had a game-high 17 points for Strafford (21-8).