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The Lady Eagles Proudly display the state basketball championship trophy which they won by defeating a tough Stratton team, 56-55, in overtime last Saturday. Left to right are Dana Legg, Terri Wall, Heather Mosher, Diana Mitchell, Lori Jones, Kristin Kelley, Kristy Hines, Shelly Watts, Trudy Howard, Shelly Hines, Shannon Lessenden, and Kristi Griswould.
John Contreras

Long Time Gone and the Lady Eagles Win First Ever Basketball Crown

By Betsy Barnett

January 19, 2024

As mentioned in last week’s edition of the Kiowa County Independent, the Eads Alumni Association is going to honor the 1984 Eads Girls’ Basketball team that brought home the school’s first ever girls basketball championship on February 9th at the Eads Gym between the varsity girls’ and boys’ games.

The team had been at state since 1979, but for six seasons Coach Gail Crawford and the Eads girls’ basketball program could never capture that elusive gold ball—until 40 years ago this year when the 1984 team won a thrilling 56-55 OT championship game over Stratton.

The headlines were many, such as “Eads girls rally to win class A-II” from the Lamar Daily News. And many stories were written on the opening rounds where the Eagles defeated first Peyton and then Cotopaxi to advance into the state championship game for the first time since 1979—when they lost to Caliche by three points.

In this week’s edition of Long Time Gone we thought we catch folks up and tell them the story of that exciting overtime, first-ever championship accomplishment that thrilled the fans and a whole community Long Time Gone—40 years ago:

The following article was written by John Contreras—yes, the one and only—40 years ago when Eads won and was published in the Kiowa County Press on March 16, 1984:

The Eads High School Girls basketball team finally nailed down the Class A-II State Basketball Title that they have been chasing for the past six years. The win didn’t come easy for them, during the title game with Stratton last Saturday at the Air Force Academy Cadet Fieldhouse. In fact, it looked as if the Eads Eagles had let the title slip through their fingers for the sixth straight time when Stratton canned a two pointer with just nine seconds remaining in regulation play and tied the score 49-49 sending the contest into overtime.

Stratton went ahead quickly in overtime when Isenbart hit a pair of free throws and a short jumper, and Sue Horning connected on a jumper from the right baseline.

But Trudy Howard of the Eagles sank a pair of free throws at 0.:57 and Kristen Kelley made a layup with 0:36 before Kristy Hines made good her game winning free throws. It was a dramatic 56-55 overtime victory for the Eads Eagles.

Trailing by five, 55-50 in the opening minute of OT, Coach Crawford said that all he had to do was “look at the girls faces to know how much they wanted the title. My only concern was if there were any doubts.” There weren’t!

“The key was that our seniors realized it was their last shot at winning it and they wanted it bad enough. They adjusted to changes on defense and made it work on desire.”

Crawford said the victory was especially pleasing because of his senior dominating lineup and for three-year starters Shelly Watts and Kristy Hines. “A lot of pressure was on this group to do well and they had that in the back of their minds all through the tournament.”

“The community support was super in backing the girls. The girls wanted to represent the town as well as the district with pride.”

Trudy Howard, who had a game high of 16 points to pace the Eagles, scored nine of her points in the third quarter. Shelly Watts finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, and Kristy Hines chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds.

Enroute to the Eagles quest for the state crown, they handily defeated Peyton 74-41 in the first round on Thursday the 15th. Kristy Hines paced the Eagles with 20 points, Trudy Howard had 18 and Shelly Hines 11.

In Friday’s semifinals, Shelly Watts pumped in 30 points to lead the Eagles past Cotopaxi 71-47. Kristin Kelley added 14 points in the victory.

The Eads Eagles now reign as “Queen of the Court” with a final season record of 21-2.

Following are the stats for all three games:

Championship Game

Watts 5-2-12, K. Hines 3-5-11, Howard 5-6-16, Kelley 4-1-9, Mitchell 1-0-2, S. Hines 1-4-6.

Eads-Cotopaxi Game

Watts 14-2-30, K. Hines 3-3-9, Howard 2-4-8, Kelley 4-6-14, Legg 1-0-2, S. Hines 1-1-3, Mitchell 2-0-4, Wall 0-0-0, Griswould 0-1-1.

Eads- Peyton Game

Watts 2-0-4, K. Hines 10-0-20, Howard 8-2-18, Kelley 3-1-7, Lessenden 0-2-2, Mitchell 2-1—5, Wall 0-1-1, S. Hines 4-3-11, Mosher 0-0-0, Jones 1-2-4, Griswould 1-0-2, Legg 0-0-0.

Comments from Coach Crawford

It was a nail-biting, heart stopping finish, but we reached our goal this year the Girls State Basketball Championship. It’s hard to express the feelings I have for this team, they played with tremendous heart, determination, and poise.

I feel the girls represented our school, community, and district well, not only in the games but from the time we left Thursday until we returned Sunday. They conducted themselves admirably the entire time.

There are many people to whom we owe a thank you. I am not sure who was responsible for everything, but from those who provided flowers for districts and state to those who offered encouraging words, I thank you.

I would like to recognize Coach Mestas for his contributions. He came up with may helpful suggestions for the program.

I wish to express my appreciation to my wife and family for their patience and support during the practice weeks. They were very understanding when it seemed I had little time for them.

An apology is in order to the faithful fans who stayed after the Championship game only to find out the team had left. Due to lack of showering facilities, we went back to the motel for the girls to shower. Being caught up in the moment and in a hurry to get showered and back to watch the A-1 girls’ game, we took the shortest route to the bus. I feel I cheated our fans out of a special moment, and I am very sorry.

Again, thank you fans, student body, pep club, faculty, and administration for supporting us. A special thank you team for giving us a very special experience.

— Coach Crawford

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