The season ended for the Goreville Junior Lady Blackcats on Friday, January 29 with the team hoisting the State Championship trophy in the air. Achieving the incredibly rare perfect season, they went 29-0 en route to their victory.
Their final test was a match-up against the Jonesboro Lady Bulldogs in front of a packed crowd at Rend Lake College. The contest ended with Goreville on top 59-49.
From the tip-off the Goreville quickly took control of the game closing the first quarter out with a 10 point lead. The girls set the pace with their high scoring offense and tough defensive pressure. Kelsey Ray and Payton Sopczak each scored seven in the first.
The second quarter was much of the same as the Lady Blackcats fought to extend their lead, closing out the half up 34-18.
The Lady Bulldogs would not go quietly though, they fought their way back into the game. They began the second half with a pair of three points. The tension mounted as the Lady Blackcats slowed the tempo of the game, burning time off the clock. The Lady Bulldogs responded by stepping up their defense and creating turnovers. This resulted in the Lady Bulldogs outscoring the Lady Blackcats by seven points in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter began with the Lady Blackcats holding onto a nine point lead. Lady Blackcat head coach Teresa Cash had prepared for the fourth quarter well. Sam Licka and Payton Sopczak hit the floor with renewed energy and seemed to will the Lady Blackcats to victory. Licka dropped in eight points from the field in the fourth quarter, while Sopczak scored six, two from the charity stripe.
When the final buzzer sounded an emotional and triumphant Lady Blackcat team rushed together to share the victory, as family, friends, and fans roared with elation.
Payton Sopczak scored 15 to lead the team. Kelsey Ray finished the night with 14. Sam Licka put up 13 points. Adrianna Licka scored nine. Hallie Martin put four points on the scoreboard and Katie Benard dropped in two.
After the game coach Cash took a moment to gather her thoughts, “In 2008, we were here undefeated and lost the state championship game. We finally got it done, an undefeated season.”