The Hannibal girls’ basketball team never had a chance.
“We knew coming in that Mexico was a tough team,” Hannibal coach Ron Greenwell said. “We knew they were going to shoot the threes, but we didn’t know they were going to shoot the three that well. When four of your first five shots (three-point attempts) go in and they are up 12-nothing, that is just a kick in the pants right to begin with.”
The Lady Pirates came into Monday nights regular season finale knowing Mexico was a very good three-point shooting team. Then the Lady Bulldogs opened the game with four treys in five attempts to take a 12-0 lead.
“I think it affected our girls some unfortunately mentally,” Greenwell said. “It was a minute and a half into the game and it was 12-nothing automatically.”
From that point on, it was all downhill as Hannibal lost to Mexico 46-29 on senior night.
“It was kind of bitter sweet,” Hannibal senior Theresa Sheffer said. “It has been a long season and it is almost over. It is sad because I have to leave my team and this was our last home game. I will miss them."
After Mexico opened the game with its 12-0 run, Hannibal climbed back into the game. The Lady Pirates closed out the opening quarter of play with a 7-2 run to cut Mexico’s lead to seven points, 14-7.
“It was a long game for us,” Greenwell said. “The girls tried to play their best, but we by far were outplayed tonight, no doubt about it.”
But, during the second quarter, everything fell apart for Hannibal as Mexico went on a 13-0 run to pull away. The Lady Pirates didn’t score in the second quarter until there was 51 seconds left on the clock. At that point, Melanie Blase broke the scoreless streak when she pulled down an offensive rebound and returned it for layup.
Hannibal went into the intermission trailing 27-9.
Something changed for Hannibal during the halftime break.
When the third quarter began, the Lady Pirates started scoring. Lauren Holliday quickly hit Hannibal’s first trey of the game. After Mexico countered with a trey of its own, Holliday hit another trey. A Mexico bucket later, Theresa Sheffer got into the act with Hannibal’s third three-pointer of the third quarter.
At that point, Hannibal trailed 32-18 with 4:35 left in the third quarter. But, just as quick as the scoring for Hannibal started, it also stopped. The Lady Pirates managed just one more bucket in the third quarter, a layup from Anasia Elder with just under two minutes left in the third quarter.
“We tried to fight back,” Greenwell said. “But, Mexico just countered back. It seamed like everytime we would cut into that 15-17 point lead, they would come back and hit another three.”
When the third quarter was over, Mexico had outscored Hannibal 12-11 to extend its lead to a 19 point margin, 39-20.
Hannibal opened the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run. Elder sank one of two free throw tries and Blase hit another jump shot. Then Paige Utterback got into the three-point frenzy with her own trey with 6:30 left in the game. Utterback’s trey got Hannibal within 13 points at 39-26, but that was as close as Hannibal would get.
Mexico responded with two layups and another three-pointer to push its lead to 20 points at 46-26 with 1:57 remaining.
“Mexico, they live and die by the three,” Greenwell said. “Our game plan going in was to take those threes away and we didn’t. ... We didn’t live up to our game plan and it hurt us.”
Sheffer closed out the Lady Pirates scoring with a layup and a free throw after she was fouled to get back with 17 points with 1:28 left, but neither team would score for the rest of the game.
“I just played as hard as I could,” Sheffer said. “When they went on that big run, I just tried not to give up and kept pushing.”
On the back boards, Hannibal outrebounded Mexico 29-27. Elder had a game-high 13 rebounds while Blase pulled down 10 boards for the Lady Pirates.
“Melanie and Anasia, that is the big thing about putting them on the floor,” Greenwell said. “We know we are going to get rebounds. Anasia comes off the bench and has been the leading rebounder for us in the last three or four games. Melanie, we expect that from her too. She has a tremendous vertical leap and it is something that she worked on in the offseason for volleyball.”
In junior varsity action, the Lady Pirates beat Mexcio 32-29.
Hannibal finished its regular season with a 9-12 record overall and 4-8 in the North Central Missouri Conference. Hannibal will now prepare for the district tournament where the Lady Pirates will play St. Dominic (11-9) on Monday, Feb. 25 at St. Dominic High School. The game will tip off at 3:30 p.m.
“The main thing going into district is we are playing people we have never seen before,” Greenwell said. “There is not a single team in that district that we have played this year. I don’t know if that is an advantage or disadvantage to us. We have some film on St. Dominic that we will watch and of course they have got one on us, but what I think it comes down to in the district game, especially that first game with us and Dominic, is who shoots the ball the best.”