Exeter Lady Tigers down McAuley for 21st win

Thursday, February 19, 2009
Lady Tiger Destani Stensrud fights to protect the ball from a Blue Eye player during last Monday night's tough contest. Stensrud scored 18 points in Exeter's 53-45 win.

Missouri's #2-ranked Class 1 Exeter Lady Tigers improved to 21-1 with a 75-52 win over McAuley Catholic at Exeter on Monday night. Whitney Edie led the Tigers with 32 points, as Exeter bested McAuley for the second time this season. The win followed an impressive set of victories last week, punctuated by a tough 53-45 win over Blue Eye.

The Lady Warriors played Exeter tough in their previous meeting and set about with the same strategy the second time around. Playing a triangle and two defense throughout most of the first quarter, McAuley stayed close for the first five minutes. Arielle Santillon drained a trey from the left wing with 2:58 on the clock to cut the Exeter lead to 10-7.

Destani Stensrud reeled off a bucket and a steal, and Abbey Scott rebounded and scored in a span of four seconds, and then Nicholle O'Neill forced a McAuley timeout with her basket at the 1:50 mark. Exeter led 16-7. Edie and McAuley's Shelby Tinney traded buckets, and the Lady Tigers led at the break, 18-9.

The ragged pace saw both teams committing unforced errors, and a pair of missed free throws cost Exeter an even bigger lead. Coach Jason Cole, unhappy with the flow of the game, made a key substitution after only three minutes of play, inserting a taller Abbey Scott into the line-up alongside Edie to give Exeter a decided height advantage.

Exeter inbounded the ball to start the second quarter, and after a quick offensive rotation, Edie hit a medium-range baseline jumper for a 20-9 lead. On the Lady Eagles' next possession, Edie made a nice assist to Katie Chadd to push the lead to 22-9.

McAuley loves to shoot the three, and Sonya Kilongkilong connected on her long ball to cut the lead to 22-12 with just over seven minutes before halftime. Kilongkilong then picked off a pass, went the length of the court and drew a foul on her lay-up attempt. Her two free throws resulted in a 22-14 score and concern spread among the Exeter fans.

Shelby Bowman answered with her own trey for Exeter, followed by a powerful Edie lay-up to extend the lead back to 27-14. Sarah Onstat completed a fast break for the visitors, and then Edie and Jae Stephens traded bombs for a 30-19 Exeter lead.

Stephens was on fire in the second period, spinning behind Edie for a lay-up with 3:41 on the clock and then holding Exeter's post at bay while draining a left-handed hook less than a minute later. The lead was down to 9 at 32-23.

With the McAuley side of the gym gaining hope, Edie poured in five points of reality in the final 1:35 of the half, taking a dish from Stensrud to finish a break and then raining a left wing trey with only :46 remaining. The Lady Tigers went to the locker room up 39-26. McAuley Coach Chelsea Holmes was fuming, but the score could have been much worse.

In the second half, Holmes went from fuming to foot-stomping as her Warriors could have filled a shoestore with their errors against Exeter's relentless press. Meanwhile, McAuley showed their own full-court press, and the results were not positive.

Stensrud led the Lady Tigers through the third frame, hitting a trio of bombs, the first on Exeter's initial possession of the second half. Stephens scored twice in the early going, and Santillon banked in a long trey from the top of the arc to keep McAuley's fading hopes alive.

But Exeter was just too strong. Edie's steal at half court and subsequent delivery created the game's biggest lead so far at 53-35. Stephens scored again for the visitors, but Exeter scored the final eight points of the frame -- six of them on a pair of Stensrud treys -- and the Lady Tigers led 61-37 with one quarter to play.

Edie rebounded a missed trey attempt to start the fourth quarter, and her coast-to-coast effort gave Exeter a 26-point lead. The lead maxed out at 29 when Stensrud's lay-up resulted in a 72-43 score with 3:10 to play. McAuley cut the margin to 72-52, and then Sydney Newman hit a late free throw and Sarah Staples hurried in a short jumper at the buzzer to produce the final 75-52 score.

Edie led all scorers with her 32, after scoring 22 in the first half. Stensrud added 17 points for Exeter, and Bowman and Chadd both scored 6. Jae Stephens scored a strong 18 points for the Lady Warriors, backed by Santillon and Kilongkilong with 14 apiece.

Thursday night, Feb. 19, will be the last home game for the Exeter seniors as they entertain a solid Purdy Lady Eagles squad. That battle will be followed by road games at Crane and Southwest leading into district play.

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