Fresh from a tournament victory at the Liberty Bank Lady Cavalier Classic in Joplin, the Southwest Lady Trojans hosted the Sarcoxie Lady Bears on Dec. 8 and rolled to their fourth consecutive victory to start the season. Southwest downed Sarcoxie 52-19.
The senior-laden Southwest squad swarmed Sarcoxie from the opening tip and enjoyed a 15-3 lead following consecutive steals and lay-ups by Tina Schreiner and Courtney Breamer late in the first quarter. Chelsea Sneed nailed a jumper and Stacy Hobbs canned a trey as the quarter ended to give the home team a 20-3 lead.
Sarcoxie managed eight second quarter points, six of them from the free throw line, but Sneed led the Lady Trojans to a 35-11 halftime lead. The Lady Bears used mass substitutions at times to try to stem the tide but couldn't find a combination of players that could match up with Southwest.
The third quarter began where the first half ended, with Southwest's defensive pressure forcing turnover after turnover.
Starting with 6:08 left in the quarter, Ickes and Sneed scored on back-to-back fast breaks and then Sneed scored on an inbounds play to up the lead to 41-11. Ickes laid one off the board on another fast break before Yasmon Kisling broke the scoring drought for the Lady Bears with a heave from the right wing that found twine.
The Lady Trojans reeled off a 6-0 run to finish the quarter, featuring Kelsey Henry's long three from the left wing with :08 on the clock, and the lead grew to 51-13.
The mercy clock ran the entire last period, and Sarcoxie actually outscored Southwest 6-1 in the compressed quarter, but the Lady Trojans secured the win, 52-19.
Sneed led Southwest with 11 points, followed by Henry with 10 and Ickes with 8. Eight Lady Trojans contributed in an evenly-balanced attack. Chelsea Colman led Sarcoxie with her 6 points.
Exeter's Lady Tigers captured the trophy at the Blue Eye tournament, and then opened conference play at home against Verona on Dec. 9. The gym where Exeter's boys state championship team of 1963 played was packed with fans who had waited a long offseason to see Whitney Edie and teammates make another run at a title of their own.
Exeter won the game handily 82-55, and Edie lived up to her top billing, scoring 44 points despite sitting the last 1:54 of the first half and only playing 3:49 of the third quarter and 3:50 of the fourth quarter. The Missouri State signee dominated all phases of the contest, from scoring Exeter's first 13 points, to rebounding, passing, and even dribbling coast to coast on several fast breaks.
Edie also hit both her three-point attempts, one from the left wing with 5:18 left in the second period, and the other from the right corner some three minutes later. She rained free throws also, as the shorter Verona players were helpless to stop her in the paint.
On defense, with Edie squarely in the middle of Exeter's zone, the lane became basketball's Bermuda Triangle, a place where shots go to die. When the 6' 1" center wasn't blocking shots, she hauled down rebounds and triggered fast breaks with both passing and dribbling.
Exeter enjoyed a 27-15 lead after a quarter in which Edie scored 19 points, extended the lead to 54-26 at half, and then the Lady Tigers hammered to a 72-41 position. The mercy clock ran throughout most of the final quarter. Consecutive treys by Verona's Smith pulled the Lady Wildcats within 30 with just under three minutes remaining.
Destani Stensrud took pressure away from Edie by scoring 15 points, and Shelby Bowman added 9 for the home team.
Verona's young squad hung in the game early on the strength of its long range accuracy. A trio of freshmen took turns bombing away for the Lady Wildcats. Jessica Smith finished with 24 points, Jenna Chadd accounted for 14, and Tristan Carrisquillo added 9 points to lead the visitors.
Exeter improved its record to 4-0, and Coach Cole was flattering in assessing his team's performance against Verona.
"Offensively, we played as good as we possibly can," he said. "Defensively, we knew they would shoot the three, and we had to revisit that during the game. But we played very well."
With both Exeter and Southwest winning season-opening tournaments, and Purdy already suffering a conference loss, the two southern neighbors of Barry County may be on a collision course to decide the Ozark 7 conference title.
Exeter will host the first clash on Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009, and the Lady Trojans defend their home court against the Lady Tigers on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009.