In their most impressive outing of the season, the Exeter Lady Tigers rolled to a 48-18 halftime lead and stunned the Southwest Lady Trojans 75-23 on Thursday, Jan. 8 at Exeter.
Southwest had no answers for Exeter's arsenal of offensive weapons and never had any offensive continuity of their own. Exeter, on the other hand, forced the action on every possession and controlled the game even more than the score might suggest.
No team likes to see the mercy clock run against them, "the clock" being MSHSAA's politically correct measure to prevent those painful 100-to-peanuts games. If one team trails by 30 points or more in the fourtth quarter, the clock never stops.
Whitney Edie, Exeter's all-everything post, sat out a good part of the first half and only appeared for a brief cameo after intermission as Coach Jason Cole went to his bench early. Edie set the tempo soon after the national anthem, controlling the opening tip and then sinking a three-pointer before the first bag of popcorn was sold. She then sank an easy 12' jumper from the paint to open a 5-0 lead at 6:41 of the opening quarter.
With the Southwest girls out of sync on offense, the Lady Tigers went for the kill early. A fast break ended with Kasie Scott scoring on a soft bank off the glass for a 9-0 lead, and Coach Kenny Ferguson called Southwest's first timeout.
Kirstie Ickes laid in Southwest's first two points at the 4:14 mark, and Southwest trailed 9-2. But Scott connected on a long deuce, followed by a fast break lay-up by Shelby Bowman and the Exeter lead grew to 13-2. Then Destani Stensrud teed off from way beyond the arc and drained a trey to ignite the home crowd.
Kelsey Henry hit from the left wing, and the Lady Trojans cut the lead to 16-4. With the lead at 18-4, Exeter went full throttle with the pressure defense. But the Lady Tigers missed several opportunities, and then Stacy Hobbs popped in a spot-up three for Southwest, and the score was 18-7 in favor of the home team at the end of the first quarter.
Ickes drove the right baseline and scored for the visitors to give Southwest a 4-0 mini-run to start the second quarter, but Exeter would score eight of the game's next 10 points, with Abbey Scott contributing six for Exeter while Chelsea Sneed sank a pair of free throws for Southwest.
Then the Lady Tigers erupted and lit up the scoreboard like a nickle slot machine. As the second quarter clock passed the five-minute mark, Stensrud picked Hobbs clean in the backcourt and scored on an easy lay-up. Then in quick succession, two Southwest turnovers led to a Shelby Bowman trey and a long two-pointer for Edie and the lead jumped to 33-11. Southwest called timeout with 4:24 remaining.
When play resumed, Edie collected the ball after a Southwest miss and found Bowman open down the court for a snowbird lay-up and a 35-11 lead. Sneed hit one free throw following Edie's second foul and then Bowman drained a stunning long trey for the 38-12 advantage.
With Southwest reeling from the onslaught, Courtney Breamer checked in for the Lady Trojans with three minutes left in the half and promptly scored two buckets, making the score 16-38. But Exeter pounded in 10 more points before halftime while shutting out the visitors until Henry sank a pair from the charity stripe just three seconds before halftime.
The demoralized Lady Trojans only scored two points in the third quarter, while Exeter ran up and down the court like it was an indoor track meet. The lead reached 48 when Stensrud dribbled into the lane, headfaked and nailed a turnaround jumper with a real "Are you kidding me?" move that set the score at 66-18 with 4:20 left on the third quarter clock.
The quarter ended with the Lady Tigers dominating 70-20. The mercy clock couldn't run fast enough in the final period, as Exeter's JV players scored five points to three for Southwest, and the final score stung on the scoreboard: 75-23.
Bowman led the Lady Tigers in scoring, with many of her 17 points the results of steals and fast breaks. Edie scored 14 with her limited minutes, and Stensrud also reached double figures, scoring 13. Ten different players scored for Exeter in the contest. Probably the only negative stat for Exeter was the 7- of-13 free throw shooting.
Ickes led Southwest with her 6 points.
The Southwest-Exeter rivalry failed to produce the anticipated close contest. The bragging rights game was most important because of its bearing on the Ozark 7 race, where only Exeter and Joplin McAuley reached January with no conference losses.
The Lady Trojans knew they could ill afford a loss and its accompanying two-game deficit in the conference standings. Exeter, after a narrow loss to a powerful Couch team in the finals of the Walnut Grove tournament, made a major statement to the rest of the Ozark 7 with its blowout win.