Meadow Heights girls basketball coach Mark Verticchio and his players made sure they gave Farmington plenty of credit.
But they all agreed that the lingering effects of a tough semifinal defeat helped contribute to the Panthers' disappointing end to the Kelso Supply Holiday Classic.
The second-seeded Panthers suffered a 52-51 loss to fifth-seeded Farmington in Thursday night's third-place game at the Show Me Center.
"I knew we were flat in the locker room," Verticchio said. "When you see that, there's not much you can do."
Meadow Heights, in just its second tournament appearance, had its hopes of a second consecutive title-game appearance dashed by Wednesday's narrow setback against two-time defending champion Notre Dame.
"We were feeling sorry for ourselves," Meadow Heights senior forward Erin Bollmann said. "You could definitely see it in the first half. We weren't moving. We weren't looking for each other."
Added Meadow Heights senior guard Whitney Welker: "Last night's game was a heartbreaker for sure. We definitely overlooked them, but I thought they did a very good job."
The Panthers (7-3) might have been down in the dumps collectively, but their two stars did all they could to try to help Meadow Heights overcome it.
Welker poured in 28 points and Bollmann added 19. Sophomore forward Haley Thorne accounted for the other four points.
Welker finished the three-game tournament with 67 points. Bollmann had 60.
"Our role players have got to score some points. They have got to step up," Verticchio said. "But we're still young. We lost five of our top seven players from last year. We're basically bringing in a new team other than Whitney and Erin."
Welker scored the game's first eight points.
But Farmington (4-3) grabbed the lead late in the opening quarter and held it the rest of the half. It was 31-24 at the intermission.
"I give Farmington credit," Verticchio said. "We got off to that 8-0 lead, but they came back. Same thing in the fourth quarter when we got up six."
The Panthers finally took their first lead since the opening period when they went up late in the third quarter. It was 42-38 entering the final period.
Welker scored in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter to make it 44-38. It appeared as if the Panthers finally had taken control.
"We got our second wind, then we relaxed," Bollmann said.
Farmington scored eight consecutive points to go up 46-44, setting the stage for a tight finish that featured no lead bigger than two points.
Meadow Heights went ahead for the final time at 50-48 on two Bollmann free throws with about three minutes left.
Junior forward Rachel Williams scored inside with 1 minute, 23 seconds remaining to put the Knights back on top 52-50.
Bollmann hit 1 of 2 free throws with a minute left to make it 52-51.
The Panthers had two possessions to regain the lead, including with 30 seconds left after junior guard Taylor Cureton drew a charge.
Meadow Heights had trouble getting into its offense and nearly turned over the ball twice before Cureton was forced to take a rushed 15-footer just ahead of the buzzer. It bounced off the rim.
Sophomore guard Jordan Martin paced a young Farmington squad with 15 points. She hit three 3-pointers. Freshman guard Kaitlyn Gilliam added 14 points and Williams had 13.
MEADOW HEIGHTS (51) -- Erin Bollmann 19, Whitney Welker 28, Haley Thorne 4. FG 18, FT 15-21, F 9. (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none)
FARMINGTON (52) -- Caitlyn Friend 4, Sara Pinkley 6, Kaitlyn Gilliam 14, Jordan Martin 15, Rachel Williams 13. FG 23, FT 3-5, F 21. (3-pointers: Martin 3. Fouled out: Pinkley, Jessica Hicks)