Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer hasn’t had many opportunities to address a teary-eyed team over the past few years.
The Buccaneers reached the Breslin Center the past three seasons, winning state championships the last two years.
But on Wednesday, Kowalczyk-Fulmer had to bid goodbye to her heartbroken seniors after a disappointing 39-25 loss to Mona Shores in the semifinal round of the Class A district tournament.
“It’s harder to say goodbye to the seniors than it is to lose a game,” Kowalczyk-Fulmer said. “I thought we could play with that team. We just weren’t good enough tonight.”
The Buccaneers had plenty of chances early on to take control of the game, but their shots refused to fall, and instead of building what could have been a 6-8 point lead in the early minutes had they hit a few layups instead turned into a 5-4 deficit on a Sailors’ 3-pointer.
The Bucs never recovered.
They shot just 22 percent from the floor. Their lone offensive highlight came at the first-half buzzer, when junior Amanda Merz drilled a 3-pointer to cut their deficit to just four points at 25-21.
But the second half was more of the same, as Mona Shores’ swarming, athletic defense cut off all lanes to the basket and made it hard for the Bucs to find open shots on the perimeter.
“We were right there,” Kowalczyk-Fulmer said. “We didn’t necessarily outplay them in the first half, but we had every opportunity. We had open looks, backdoor cuts, layups, and they were pretty stagnant offensively.
“But we just didn’t get it done. We didn’t hit our shots. We missed wide open layups.”
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