The Whitfield girls’ basketball basketball program has been knocking on the state-championship door for the past five years.
After three previous trips to the Final Four, coach Mike Slater’s Warriors finally kicked the door in this year as they won the Missouri Class 5 state championship with a 50-36 victory over West Plains on Friday at Missouri State University in Springfield.
In their first three trips to the Final Four, Whitfield finished second in 2017, third in 2018 and third last season, losing to Class 3 dynasty each Strafford each time.
The Warriors raced out to early big leads and forced their opponents to play catch-up throughout the weekend. In the championship game, Whitfield built a 34-22 halftime lead only to see West Plains battle back to cut the lead to six points at the end of the third quarter. The fourth quarter belonged to Whitfield as it outscored the Lady Zizzers 11-1 to pull away and win its first state championship.
Freshman guard JaNyla Bush and sophomore forward Brooklyn Rhodes scored 11 points each to lead the Warriors. Sophomore Treazure Jackson scored 10 points and senior Kelsey Blakemore had eight points, four rebounds and four assists in the final game of her tremendous career.
In the semifinals, Whitfield defeated William Chrisman 53-47 on Thursday night. The Warriors led by 24 points and halftime and had to hold on after the Lady Bears staged a furious second-half rally
Blakemore scored a game-high 19 points for the Warriors, followed by Bush with 14 points and five assists and Nelson with 11 points. The 6’2” Rhodes added eight points and 10 rebounds.