The Cassville Ladycats played their last games of the season this week, and for the seniors, the last games of their careers.
Early in the week Cassville played conference opponent Aurora (12-9 and 2-1) at Aurora.
The Lady Houn's wasted no time in welcoming their guests with a huge deficit. Behind a combined 20 points from Jamie Nash and Bethany Haley, Aurora jumped out to a 24-11 first quarter lead. Cassville did not surrender though and used a 14-6 run and 6 good points from Gabby LeCompte to close the gap to 9 at 36-27.
In the third quarter, the home team used an 8-2 run to pull further away and despite 5 key points from Jessie Gripka, Cassville was unable to keep up at 52-37. The visiting squad pulled close again in the fourth quarter at 52-41, but 11 free-throw attempts by Aurora and a 7-0 run ended the game in the home team's favor, 66-52.
Cassville struggled on the boards in the game, getting out-rebounded 22-14. They also committed 16 fouls and 16 turnovers. Cassville did draw 15 fouls on Aurora though. Cassville's starters got outscored on the night by 13 points and the Ladycat bench got out-rebounded 12-5.
Julie Cupps had a consistently good game as she scored 11 points. Brittany Vollenweider also did well, scoring 8 points and grabbing five rebounds.
Other scorers were: Gripka 9, LeCompte 9, Abby Munoz 3, Brittney Wilbanks 3, Brittany Gatley 3, Emily Orrell 2, Hannah Elkins 2 and Ariell Oswald 2. For Aurora, Nash and Haley both had 19.
In their next game, Cassville closed out the regular season by travelling to Seneca to take on the Lady Indians (11-7 and 1-2).
In what was a loosely called game, the Ladycats held their own in the first quarter, getting 12 of their 14 first quarter points from Cupps and Vollenweider. Conversely, Maranda Vaught for Seneca scored 9. This led to six lead changes in the first quarter and a score of 14-13 in Cassville's favor.
After a good first quarter, the Lady Indians stepped up their game. The home team out rebounded Cassville 10-5 and committed no turnovers during the frame, helping to provide them with a 16-0 run that made the score 29-18 at half.
Despite great play by Vollenweider for the Ladycats, with 7 points and four rebounds in the third quarter, Cassville could not stem the tide and Seneca bolstered their lead to 44-30, and in the end, the Lady Indians earned a 62-40 victory.
Cassville again had trouble defending the boards as the Lady Indians out-rebounded them 39-22. They did draw 15 fouls from the home team bu t committed19. Cassville also shot 58 percent from the line (7-12).
Vollenweider and Cupps led the charge for Cassville. Both had 14 points for the Ladycats, and Vollenweider also had eight rebounds. Other scorers for Cassville were: Munoz 5, Orrell 4, Gripka 2, and Elkins 1.
For Seneca, Vaught tallied 18 points and eight rebounds, Alex Close had 16 points and eight rebounds and Melea Cook scored 19 points.
On Monday, Cassville traveled to Monett for the start of the Class 4 District 12 Tournament and faced previous foe Carl Junction. The Ladycats had seen the Lady Bulldogs twice this season, losing the first game and winning the second.
As with any year-end elimination tournament, excitement was high and so too were the nerves of the players. Both teams had a little trouble getting warmed up, which resulted in a low-scoring first quarter. Cassville took the early lead at 4-0, but a 7-1 turnover ratio diminished the Ladycats lead and turned it into an 11-6 deficit.
Carl Junction had 8 effort points in the quarter as compared to Cassville's zero. (Note: effort points are points scored off either turnovers or offensive rebounds, as scored by the NCAA). The local team did not give up and came back strong in the second quarter. A combined 12 points from seniors Cupps and Gripka helped spur the Ladycats to a 13-2 run and a 21-19 halftime lead.
Another 6 points from Cupps and three rebounds from Vollenweider helped Cassville stay in front despite a 9-2 Lady Bulldog run. Going into the fourth, the score was 33-30 in Cassville's favor.
The fourth quarter saw the Ladycats struggle with Cassville shooting only 3-7 from the free-throw line. Carl Junction was able to go 4-4 from the line and also hit two treys in the quarter to tie the game and force overtime.
Cassville, already 0-2 on the season in overtime games, would not find the charm of the third. The Lady Bulldogs scored the first basket as a three, and despite some good opportunities, the Ladycats could not tie or take the lead. Carl Junction won 50-47 and ended Cassville's season.
"I was proud of our effort in the C.J. game," said Coach Chris Shore, "Our kids really played hard and showed a lot of enthusiasm."
For the first time in the week the Ladycats controlled the boards heavily, out-rebounding Carl Junction 39-29. The squad also drew 17 fouls on the opposing team. However, Cassville did struggle in some key areas. The Ladycats turned the ball over 21 times in the contest, they shot 43 percent from the line (9-21), 29 percent from three-point (2-7), and lost the effort points ratio 21-11.
Cupps fittingly led scoring on what was her last night of high school basketball with 15 points. She also had seven rebounds. Munoz, another senior, finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, a double-double. Cassville's last senior Gripka had 7 points and 2 rebounds.
Other contributors for Cassville were: Vollenweider, 8 points and eight rebounds; LeCompte 4 points; and Orrell, 1 point and four rebounds.
Cassville ends the season with a 12-14 mark.
"It was an up-and-down year," said Coach Shore, "but we have some big wins to look back on and be proud of."
The girls improved upon last year's record and played well throughout the season.