To the casual observer, Reeds Spring is a tall team with a couple of space eaters in the lane, and the Lady Wolves present some match-up problems with their height. But height was the only advantage the Lady Wolves had over the host team.
Cassville was faster and quicker (there's a difference), and more aggressive in pursuing rebounds and loose balls. Plus, Reeds Spring is a notoriously poor-shooting team and lived up to that reputation, so the scoring difference should not have been a surprise.
Neither team could develop any offensive continuity in the early going, but Hannah Elkins christened the basket at the Cassville end on a crisp inbounds feed, and the Wildcats pushed to a 16-2 advantage on Jaime Everett's lay-up and accompanying free throw in the final minute of the first quarter.
Haley Hahn hit her second free throw after being fouled by Elkins to give Reeds Spring its third point, and then Everett ran free for a snowbird lay-up against the overeager press. Cassville led 18-3 with only nine seconds left in the period.
After scoring only three points in 7:59 of the first quarter, Sabra Boes just beat the clock and doubled the Reeds Spring score with her rainmaker trey with :00 shining on the scoreboard timepiece. Cassville's girls huddled up with an 18-6 advantage.
The second quarter could have been played with one basket, as Cassville's trademark defense shut out the Wolves for the entire period. Four players accounted for Cassville's 11 second quarter points, and the teams adjourned for halftime with the Ladycats leading 31-6.
Following a Marti Richmiller bucket for Cassville, Ashleaha Farley popped a jumper from 12 feet to break a drought of 8:44 for Reeds Spring. That lonely "8" hung on the scoreboard for most of the third quarter though, as Cassville mounted an 11-0 run featuring five points by Richmiller.
Reeds Spring finally rediscovered the basket with :35 left to end another drought, this one spanning 6:42 of the period. Emily Orrell showed a little payback with her period-ending trey from the top of the arc, and Cassville led 49-10 with only the fourth quarter to play.
The turbo clock ran the entire fourth period and could have been a ticking "applause" sign for the Ladycats. Orrell drove for a lay-up from the top of the key to open the final frame, and Ariel Oswald sneaked behind the full court press for a freebie lay-up and a 53-10 lead. Then, Oswald sneaked behind the full court press for a freebie lay-up and a 55-10 lead. (Yes, she did it twice.)
Farley hit a left wing jumper over Elkins to loosen the rust on the Reeds Spring stat sheet, but Ariel Gonzalez canned a short jumper to regain the 45-point advantage for Cassville.
The Lady Wolves scored on back-to-back shots by Kortnie Vernon and Hattie Michaud, but Cassville scored the final three points of the contest on a free throw by Gonzalez and a Kennadi Howard lay-up. Final score: Cassville 60, Reeds Spring 16.
As Chris Shore said on his post-game radio interview, "It was an ugly game."
But it was the kind of win Cassville needed, a good confidence booster that didn't entirely drain the team of physical or emotional energy. The Ladycats will need all the energy they can find when they take on Republic Thursday night.
Elkins led Cassville with 15 points, and Orrell scored 13 points. Richmiller added 9 points to the cause, while Everett had 7 and Oswald put up 6 for the Ladycats.
Lady Mustangs 44-39
winners over Monett
The early game saw fourth-seeded McDonald County eliminate fifth-seeded Monett, 54-42, behind the 25-point performance of Jaime Shields. Mac County held a 28-18 halftime lead and ended the third quarter ahead by 40-29.
Despite a late run by Monett to cut the lead to 44-39, the Lady Mustangs weathered the storm and held on for the 54-42 victory. McDonald County will play top-seeded Aurora at 6 p.m. on Feb. 26.