The Cassville Ladycats collided with Carl Junction's Lady Bulldogs on Monday, Feb. 2 with an opportunity to extend a two-game win streak. Despite an early blitz by the Lady Bulldogs, Cassville literally rebounded to a 51-40 Big 8 Conference victory.
Carl Junction opened the game with fierce defense and uptempo offense and built a quick 6-0 lead before Cassville's Chris Shore could call for time with 6:01 on the clock.
The Ladycats emerged from the huddle with more poise and intensity and capitalized on Marti Richmiller's steal when Ariel Oswald snared a rebound and scored to get the Lady Wildcats on the board 2-6.
CJ's Lanie Skaggs scored a basket and a charity toss to push the visitors' lead to 9-2, before consecutive buckets by Cassville's Gail Edie and Kennadi Howard cut the lead to 9-6 just past the midway point of the quarter.
CJ's Mackenzie Valenti and Cassville's Hannah Elkins traded treys, and the Lady 'Dogs recorded the final two baskets of the period for a 16-11 advantage.
Early in the first quarter, CJ's whirlwind attack had Cassville struggling to keep pace. Shore's timely intervention helped his players regain their poise and composure. Even trailing by 5, Cassville displayed a different sense of urgency as the second quarter began.
In just the first three and a half minutes of the second period, Cassville outscored the visitors 8-2 and posted its first lead (19-18) with Elkins' second trey of the game from the left corner. Six lead changes occurred in the final 3:30 of the half, and Carl Junction carried a precipitous 24-23 lead to the dressing room.
The Ladycats didn't emerge from closed doors until less than a minute before the third quarter began. The long strategy session paid off as Cassville opened with a 12-2 run to take a 35-26 lead with 2:20 remaining.
After a first half of relying too heavily on outside shooting, the Wildcats went back to basics. The scheme was the same, but the intensity was much higher. Cassville took total control of the boards at both ends of the floor and exacted a heavy toll on Carl Junction with steals and held balls. The third quarter passed with Cassville leading 35-30.
In the fourth quarter, Cassville kept the squeeze on and inched the score up to 43-34 at the 5:38 mark, as the Ladycats scored six free throws in the first 2:22 of the quarter. Elkins, Richmiller and Edie combined for four more free throws and the lead grew to 48-36. CJ would score twice in the remaining 2:37, but Emily Orrell iced the win with a trio of free throws in the final minute for the 51-40 finish.
Elkins led Cassville with 17 points, followed by Edie with 13. Lauren McRae scored 10 for Carl Junction.
"We shot better from outside in the first half," said Coach Shore, "but we tried to do too much of it. We didn't get enough post touches in the first half, and we only had two post baskets to their nine at halftime.
"I challenged some of them to step up and play harder," added Coach Shore.
The Ladycats pushed their season record to 11-8 with a 1-1 conference mark. Cassville has five conference games remaining.
In the JV contest, Carl Junction opened a commanding 14-2 lead in the first quarter and held a 16-6 halftime advantage. Cassville built momentum in the second quarter and mounted a 15-2 run that pulled them within a point (17-18) at the 3:47 mark of the third quarter. Breanna Miller hit five straight free throws to lead the Ladycats' comeback.
Nursing a 22-19 lead to open the fourth quarter, CJ scored seven unanswered points to open a 29-19 advantage with three minutes left to play. Cassville's only point of the period was Danielle Krumwiede's free throw, and Carl Junction went on to win 35-20.
Amber Balch led Cassville in scoring with 9, and Macie Shryock, of Carl Junction, led all scorers with 11.