The best thing that happens to freshmen is: they become sophomores. Some of them, however, play like the trio of freshmen guards at Verona. The Lady Wildcats rode the scoring heroics of Jenna Chadd, Jessica Smith and Tristan Carrasquillo to a decisive 64-36 win over the Southwest Lady Trojans on Tuesday, Jan. 13.
Southwest dispatched Thomas Jefferson 62-25 with relative ease on Monday night in an Ozark 7 game but ran into a buzzsaw at Verona.
Verona opened the game with a 6-0 run in the first two minutes. Kelsey Henry put Southwest on the board with a field goal to cut it to 6-2 and then the Lady Wildcats cranked up a 9-2 run to reach 15-4 when Carrasquillo executed a catch-and-shoot inbounds play.
Southwest called a timeout to regroup and promptly turned the ball over. It was a Kodak moment that pretty much summed up the entire game: Southwest senior Chelsea Sneed dribbled into a double team on the right wing, pivoted and whipped a crisp pass directly to the surprised official standing on the sideline.
(Sneed wasn't born or even thought of back in 1982 when Georgetown's Freddie Brown mistakenly passed to North Carolina's James Worthy on a similar play that sealed the Tar Heel's win and gave Dean Smith his first coaching national championship.)
Conversely, when Verona's Carrasquillo airmailed a trey, Bigham caught it like any other great assist and laid it in for a 19-4 lead with :58 left. Verona led 21-6 when the first quarter expired.
Verona dominated the second quarter 17-6. Southwest only scored once from the field during the period, a Henry rebound and putback at the 3:45 mark. Mariah Fields and Courtney Breamer added 3 more points from the free throw line, but Jessica Smith alone scored 8 for Verona, and the Lady Wildcats held a 36-12 halftime lead.
Southwest showed some life after the break, with Sneed working the paint for 8 points in the third quarter. But Verona's relentless pressure kept the lead from slipping below 20, and the period passed with the home team leading 49-28.
The fourth quarter was more of a curtain call for foul-troubled participants. Southwest's Sneed fouled out with 5:18 left to play, followed soon after by Verona's Felicia Chadd and Tanya Waggoner. Jenna Chadd remained for the Lady Wildcats to the end however, and her half-dozen points in the final frame pushed Verona to the 64-36 final tally.
Verona's Chadd, Smith and Carrasquillo scored 19, 16, and 12 points respectively, and junior forward Beth Bigham added another dozen. Sneed and Henry both scored 10 for Southwest. Freshman Fields scored 8 in only her second start for the Lady Trojans.
The Lady Trojans rebounded from their loss at Verona and defeated Wheaton 59-39 in an Ozark 7 Conference game played at Washburn on Thursday, Jan. 15.
Stacy Hobbs came alive with 18 points for Southwest, Sneed scored 16, and Fields settled into her starting role very nicely, adding 14 points. Megan Brattin led Wheaton with 12 points.
Southwest Coach Kenny Ferguson detailed four areas where his team showed improvement over recent games.
"We handled their press well, took care of the ball better, our decision making was better, and we mixed up defenses better," the veteran coach said. "And Mariah Fields is getting better every game."
The Lady Trojans compete next in the Sarcoxie Tournament.