The Purdy Lady Eagles took care of business and defeated Ozark 7 Conference foe Wheaton 74-57 on Thursday night to set the stage for their showdown with powerful Exeter on Friday. Purdy's persistent pressure produced plenty of points, but it took almost three full quarters to subdue the host Lady Bulldogs.
P is for Purdy, and it is also for patience. With a little more offensive patience, the Lady Eagles might have salted away this victory over Wheaton early. Instead, the eager freshmen and sophomores that populate Purdy's roster rushed into a 13-12 deficit at the end of the first quarter after squandering early leads of 8-2 and 12-6.
Wheaton survived the opening blitz like a stunned but determined boxer fighting off the ropes. Even though Purdy's full court press forced numerous turnovers, Wheaton's veteran point guard, Haley Goostree, held her team together and reeled off 7 points in the final 54 seconds of the first quarter to give the Lady 'Dogs a slim 13-12 lead.
Megan Brattin poured in a bucket at the start of the second stanza to extend the home advantage to 15-12. Then Goostree performed some clever thievery as Purdy tried to advance the ball across halfcourt, but could not convert a close-range shot. Audrey Patton cleared the board for the visitors and Purdy coach Kelly George immediately called a timeout to settle down her squad with 7:03 on the clock.
Purdy roared back to life following the break. Patton scored easily on an inbounds play, and Shelby White scored buckets following consecutive steals by the Purdy press. Suddenly down 18-15, Wheaton's girls rallied to knot the score at 22 when Brooke Forgey rebounded her own miss and scored with 4:25 remaining in the first half.
Addy Roller had her own answer for the sagging Eagles, hitting a nifty sideline jumper on the following possession, then drilling a pair of treys to put her team up, 30-22. The lead grew to double digits and then Patton scored and drew a foul with 27 seconds remaining, and Purdy led, 35-22.
Goostree pulled out one more magic trick before the half, dribbling coast to coast and knifing between defenders in the lane for a layup with four seconds left. Wheaton trailed at halftime, 35-24.
Wheaton started the third quarter strong, cutting the margin to 37-29 before Brooke Swadley swished a pair of free throws and Roller bombed away from beyond the arc to earn a 42-29 advantage for Purdy.
With the score 44-31, Patton left the contest, favoring a left hand that required a tape job in the first half. With her 5'11" presence gone from the Purdy zone, Wheaton crawled back within 11 points at 50-39 with a Kaitlyn England basket. Then Shelby White took over for the Lady Eagles.
White caught a long outlet pass in full stride and scored on a fast break, knocked down a long deuce set up by a Patton kickout, and then wowed the crowd when she accepted a high, arcing inlet pass from Roller and banked it home to end the quarter and give the Lady Eagles the biggest lead of the game at 58-39.
The last quarter dissolved into a fouling exhibition as Wheaton tried to get back in it. The home crowd was optimistic when the lead was whittled to 60-49 and White left the game with an apparent ankle injury.
Following a Purdy timeout, Patton established her position at the high post, accepted a pass and drove down the lane to score. Wheaton could get no closer than 13 points after that goal, and the Lady Eagles soared to the 74-57 final score.
Purdy had four players in double figures: White (24), Roller (15), Patton (14) and Swadley (13). Goostree, Wheaton's jewel of a guard, scored 19 and Forgey added 12.