The Cassville Ladycats got the ball rolling on offense in both of their games this week and ended up with two big victories.
The Ladycats hosted Carl Junction (8-9 and 2-0) in their second conference matchup of the season early last week. The two teams had already met this year while playing in the Neosho tournament. The Lady Bulldogs won that matchup 53-39. However, Cassville seemed to have a new aura about them that would not let CJ get away with another easy victory.
The first quarter was a good one for the home team. Behind 6 points from Jessie Gripka and good defense, Cassville edged out to a 16-12 lead in the first quarter. From there, the Ladycats increased their advantage. Julie Cupps scored 6 of the team's 14 second quarter points and helped Cassville to a 30-20 lead at the break.
In the third quarter, the Ladycats' offense did not break down, scoring 19 behind another 6 points from Gripka, giving Cassville a 17-point advantage. The final frame mirrored the Ladycats' first three, as they completed the sweep, outscoring Carl Junction in every quarter and finishing with a 62-43 victory. Abby Munoz had a strong fourth quarter with 6 points.
The home squad did an excellent job in many ways on the night. They scored a season high 62 points, only turned the ball over seven times and got to the free-throw line 24 times. The Ladycats did struggle in a few areas, shooting only 58 percent from the line, grabbing only nine steals and giving out only six assists, but in the end played an entirely complete game.
Individually, Cupps and Munoz had big nights. Cupps scored 18 points and had two steals. She was also solid from the free-throw line, shooting 6-6. Munoz tallied 17 points, grabbed the team-high seven rebounds and stole the ball twice.
Gripka also had a breakout game, scoring a season-high 12 points on the night and dishing out four assists.
Other contributors included: Brittany Vollenweider, 6 points and three steals; Brittney Wilbanks, five rebounds; Gabby LeCompte, 7 points and two steals; and Emily Orrell, 2 points.
The junior varsity squad also downed the Lady Bulldogs 36-28. The team used strong finishes in both the first and second half to secure the victory. Misty Long led scoring with 9, and the young Ladycats move to 6-2 for the season.
In the varsity Ladycats' second home game last week, they faced a highly rated Chadwick team. The Lady Cardinals came into the game with a record of 11-3 and a state ranking of ninth in Class 1. The visiting team also brought with them a great history, which includes a Class 1 state championship and a bevy of appearances in the state play-offs.
Despite appearing as maybe the underdog in this contest the Ladycats never played like it, taking it right to the Lady Cardinals.
The visitors scored first in the game but never saw the lead again. Cassville put two runs together in the first that left them with a 14-5 lead. In the second quarter, Vollenweider put in 6 of Cassville's 13 points, and the Ladycats went in at halftime with a 27-20 lead.
Chadwick made one last run at the lead in the third and closed the gap to just three at 27-24, but never got close again as the home team went on a 14-4 run and gave themselves a comfortable lead moving into the final frame. In the fourth, both LeCompte and Munoz showed prowess, scoring 11 of Cassville's final 18 and helping lead the Ladycats over the visitors 59-42.
The Ladycats had another great night of offense as they scored 14 more points than their season average. The home squad also only turned the ball over six times as compared to the visitors' 14. Cassville did get outrebounded 30-24 and also only shot 55 percent from the free-throw line. Yet, both of these negatives diminished in the second half, as the Ladycats claimed ownership over more rebounds than the Lady Cardinals and shot a perfect 5-5 from the line.
Cassville's individual play reflected great team play for the Ladycats as four girls scored indouble digits. Vollenweider had an outstanding game, scoring the team high 16 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Other scorers included: Cupps 12, LeCompte 11, Munoz 11, Orrell 5 and Gripka 4.
"We beat two quality teams last week, and I hope we can keep up the momentum," said Coach Chris Shore.
After this week, the Ladycats climb back to .500 as they now sit at 9-9 (1-1). They also move up a spot to fifth in the Big 8 Conference. Also, Munoz has moved to fifth in southwest Missouri in field goal percentage (63-104) and Cupps now sits in eighth in the area for three-point percentage (15-39).
"We are playing with a lot more confidence," said Coach Shore. "Our team is shooting the ball much better and showing more enthusiasm."
The ninth grade Ladycats also played last week and beat McDonald County 43-33. Hannah Elkins lead scorers with 16. The freshman squad is now 2-1 on the season.
The Ladycats will play two conference games this week. On Thursday, they will play at Lamar (4-8 and 0-2), and then on Monday, Feb. 5, Cassville hosts the Monett Lady Cubs (0-14 and 0-2).