They won 90 games and lost six in a span of three years, but the ladies from Crane are still chasing more basketball glory.
The Pirates have won three consecutive Class 2 state championships. Their records over the past three seasons have been 30-2, 31-1 and 30-3. Crane starts five seniors: Drury signee Lexie Vaught, Kylee Moore, Justeen Mahan, point guard Shelby Roder and 2015 Missouri Basketball Coaches Association player of the year Emma Lander.
The Pink and White Lady Classic offers top-seeded Crane the chance to play against schools whose student population exceeds the town of Crane’s entire population, but that’s just fine with the Pirates.
“We like being challenged,” Lander said.
Crane holds the No. 1 seed in the White Division of the fourth annual Pink and White Lady Classic, which begins Dec. 28 at Drury University. Crane plays Class 4 Hillcrest on Monday at 9:30 a.m. at the O’Reilly Family Event Center.
Lander explained coach Jeremy Mullins keeps his players humble in spite of their rampant basketball success.
“Sometimes (Mullins) talks smack for other teams. He acts like he’s the other team,” Lander said. “He sets the standard for us, for our team. It doesn’t matter wins and losses, it’s more like if we can achieve that standard each game, and we want to do that.”
The loaded White Division bracket is home to four teams that reached their respective playoff semifinals last spring: Crane, No. 7-seeded Skyline and unseeded Bolivar and Hillcrest.
Republic, the No. 2-ranked team in the Class 5 Missouri coaches’ poll, made a statement Monday with a 65-59 win over Kickapoo that suggests the Tigers were underrated with a No. 4 seed in the White Division.
In the Pink and White Lady Classic, the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds are reserved for teams from outside the southwest Missouri area. The seeding rule helps the visiting teams with travel accommodations and scheduling.
Fresh off a trip to the Arkansas Class 7A final four, No. 2-seeded North Little Rock enters the tournament with five potential NCAA Division I players on the roster. Senior guard Kyra Collier signed with University of Arkansas-Little Rock, and 6-foot-4 center Brogan Jones signed with Tulane.
The Charging Wildcats have some college basketball promise in the underclass ranks with the likes of Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and several SEC teams recruiting 6-foot-2 sophomore Yo’myris Morris. Sophomore guard Amber Hawkinson is being sought after by Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arkansas-Little Rock, Florida State and several others.
Glendale draws the task of playing North Little Rock in the opening round of the White Division.
Rock Bridge enters with what may be the tallest team in the field. All five players in the Bruins’ starting five stand taller than 5-foot-11. Kentucky-commit Madison Treece, a 6-foot-4 junior forward, headlines the roster for the reigning Missouri Class 5 state champions.
Rock Bridge meets unseeded Bolivar, the Class 4 third place finisher a season ago, in Monday’s opening round.
2015 Pink and White Lady Classic
Schedule for Monday, Dec. 28
All opening round games are played at Weiser Gymnasium.
9:30 a.m. (1)Kickapoo vs. Central
11 a.m. (8)Spokane vs. Marshfield
12:30 p.m. (4)Strafford vs. Purdy
2 p.m. (5)Branson vs. Miller
4:30 p.m. (2)Pickerington Central vs. Ozark
6 p.m. (7)Camdenton vs. Willard
7:30 p.m. (3)Ft. Smith Northside vs. Catholic
9 p.m. (6)Aurora vs. Buffalo
All opening round games played at O’Reilly Family Event Center.
9:30 a.m. (1) Crane vs. Hillcrest
11 a.m. (8) Nixa vs. Rogersville
12:30 p.m. (4) Republic vs. Clever
2 p.m. (5) Fair Grove vs. Parkview
4:30 p.m. (2) North Little Rock vs. Glendale
6 p.m. (7) Skyline vs. Mt. Vernon
7:30 p.m. (3) Rock Bridge vs. Bolivar
9 p.m. (6) West Plains vs. Stockton