GOWER, Mo. — The spectacle down in Springfield, Missouri for the MSHSSA Show-Me Showdown last week was quieter than usual, but not silent enough to slow down the East Buchanan girls basketball team.

Head coach Cori Elms helped lead the Bulldogs to their first state championship in program history, a feat she described “surreal” at the time.

利众棋牌“You know, a lot of our players had never been down there before, so I don’t think they truly understand what it would have been like had everyone had a chance to be there and to be able to leave the locker room and see their fans and be able to see that entire bowl filled up,” Elms said.

MSHSSA allowed teams to play in the Class 2 State Championship by continuing competition with a limited fanbase due to COVID-19 concerns.

“For the most part our families got to be there, but we still had some family members that didn’t get to be there...I know for them it’s emotional,” Elms said. “For us, it’s the game of basketball but it’s still a lot of ways more than a game. It’s something that we enjoy with our families.”

As the pandemic sent shockwaves around the nation, the Bulldogs basked in the championship glory in their own way.

利众棋牌“There were a lot of us who were Face-Timing our parents...When we got the news about that, they basically still just said, ‘We all still love you. Your community is behind you, we still are supporting you, like enjoy it. Soak it up,’” junior forward Lillian Schilling said.

Freshman guard Maya Watkins said the team made TikTok dances with their own lyrics to songs.

“We’d just send them out to the pep people and everybody and they’d show them to their parents and they would just eventually get out,” Watkins said.

As the girls returned to the city of Gower as titleholders, they quickly realized it was different.

Senior guard Audrey Elifrits said a community pep rally was planned, but was postponed due to school closing.

利众棋牌“I wanted them to be able to feel what they got to feel here the last couple of days. We’ve seen other communities in our area get to experience some of these things,” coach Ryan Horn said.

Nevertheless, the Bulldogs found out that no matter the circumstance, the community sticks together like glue.

“I just know through Facebook and social media that everyone was really excited for us and cheering us on and they were all just great supporters,” Elifrits said.

Elms delighted in seeing the girls’ composure during this unique experience, while Horn feels proud of the team for working together.

“I’m darn proud of them...although most of it was thick, we didn’t have much thin, but just working together, accepting roles and getting to a point where they got to feel just that feeling of accomplishment, and knowing what it’s like to be a champion,” Horn said.

Micaela Dea can be reached at micaela..

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Micaela Dea is a sports reporter for News-Press NOW. She graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Growing up in San Diego, Micaela loves to travel, meet new people, and tell stories. Have a story idea? Don't hesitate to email!