FAUCETT, Mo. — Bolstered by a not-so-subtle chip on their shoulder, the Mid-Buchanan girls rode a dominant second half to a 71-49 win over Bishop LeBlond on Monday at Mid-Buchanan High School to begin Class 2 District 16 play.

Senior Jaele Barber described her reactions to the team’s first postseason win of the year.

“It feels really good to win, because I think a lot of people are underestimating us this year,” Barber said. “So now we can say, ‘Well, we still won.’”

After a state championship appearance in 2018, it’d be a mistake to count out what is now a 21-5 Dragons squad. Senior Brylee Kemper doesn’t anticipate any of their district opponents taking it easy on them as Mid-Buchanan continues to find its team identity.

“I think that since we made it to state, we have a bit of a target on our back and teams tend to play us a lot tougher,” Kemper said. “At the beginning of the year, we didn’t know who was going to be our main scorer, who was going to fill in those roles that we lost last year, and as we continue on in the end of the season I think we’re seeing us spread that around and have everyone on the team scoring more equally.”

Bishop LeBlond (4-21) didn’t make it easy for Mid-Buchanan, however. After tight a six-point loss to the Dragons earlier in the season, the underdog Golden Eagles played a first half that had all the makings of a down-to-the-wire slugfest.

Trailing just 16-15 in the first, LeBlond kept pace throughout the majority of the second quarter, as well. With the game tied at 29 and two minutes remaining in the half, Dragons coach Rod Elms called a timeout.

In the huddle, Elms asked that his players evoke the intensity they’d demonstrated in their last game.

“We had a game against Hamilton on Wednesday in the conference championship, so I told them, ‘Just imagine that the word ‘Penney’ is printed across their jerseys,’” Elms said. “As long as we ‘D’ up like this and keep people in front of us, we’re pretty tough defensively, but I think this game was a reminder of how tough you need to play. But it was the first game of districts, everybody plays a little bit different and a little bit uneasy. We still won 71-49, so I’m alright with that.”

Despite the season-ending loss, Bishop LeBlond coach Jackie Fore found little fault in the team’s effort, in either this game or the season as a whole.

“Our effort overall was 150 percent. It was a real test this season for those younger girls to step up and for our current starters to be able to keep scoring and play a lot of minutes,” Fore said. “These girls fight no matter what and no matter who we play. They’ve put together close games over over and over again by fighting until the end. Last year we got blown out multiple teams and this year that just didn’t happen this year.”

Gallatin girls 42, Maysville 39

The Bulldogs rode the tandem of Karley Salmon and Kelsey Maxwell to a first-round win against the Wolverines, as the upperclassman tandem combined for 23 of the team’s 42 points.

Though Gallatin jumped out to a 16-2 lead after one quarter, Maysville routinely battled back to make the game hotly-contested throughout.

The Bulldogs will advance to play East Atchison at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

East Atchison girls 70

St. Joseph Christian 43

The Lions met an ugly end to their season, as they faced the 23-2 Wolves who took control early and never relinquished their grasp on the game.

After a 25-5 start, St. Joseph Christian picked up steam with a 20-point second period.

Jacqi Carlson finished with 20 points on the night, the only Lion in double figures.

As has been the case all year Lily Graves led the charge for Tarkio, finishing with a game-leading 26 points.

Hamilton girls 62, East Buchanan 53

Nora Ford scored 11 of her team-high 18 points in the fourth as Hamilton fended off East Buchanan to begin district play.

East Buch went into the break leading 22-20 before the Hornets nearly doubled their first-half total with 19 third-quarter points.

East Buch’s Addisyn Ishmael led all scorers with 20. Lilly Schilling added 15 for the Bulldogs.

Hamilton will meet Mid-Buchanan at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Levi Smith can be reached at levi.smith@newspressnow.com.

Follow him on Twitter: @SNPSports.