Lady Tigers capture district title

Thursday, March 12, 2009

After humbling Chadwick in the second round of Class 1 District 6 girls tournament action at Aurora on Wednesday, March 4, the Exeter Lady Tigers faced familiar foe Verona in the district finals on Friday night. The top-seeded Tigers expected some different wrinkles from the Lady Wildcats after defeating Verona handily in both Ozark 7 games this season.

Exeter never trailed against Chadwick, building a 23-13 halftime lead and then pulling away to win, 57-38, on the strength of Whitney Edie's 29 points.

The Verona game was a different story, a very different story.

"We don't stall,

we play ball!"

Edie easily controlled the opening tip, back-tapping the ball to Shelby Bowman. Exeter's usual protocol is for Edie to knock down a demoralizing trey on a game's first possession, but Kasie Scott poured in a long deuce with a toe on the line to give the Lady Tigers a 2-0 lead after only 22 seconds of play. Verona's Jenna Chadd answered with a trey to give Verona the 3-2 edge.

Katie Chadd absorbed a foul on her shot in the lane and sank the first free throw for an early 3-3 tie. Verona rebounded the miss with 6:26 on the first quarter clock, and the stall game began.

It was a modified stall at first, as Verona ran the outside weave with the three guards, and the Lady Wildcats did seek scoring opportunities. Tristan Carasquillo missed a three for Verona, but Exeter failed to score on the following possession. The clock leaked down to 4:06 before Verona's Chadd missed another long shot, and Edie snared the board for Exeter. Beth Bigham fouled Edie, and she uncharacteristically missed both free throws.

Verona ran the three-guard weave again between the half court stripe and the outer volleyball line, but Carasquillo suspended the delay game to rip a bomb from the right corner for a 6-3 Verona lead. After an Exeter timeout, Edie immediately went to the right block and scored, and Carasquillo sank another rainbow from the same corner for a 9-5 Verona advantage.

Edie was hammered in the lane to prevent an easy lay-up and made the second shot from the charity stripe to chip the lead down to 9-6. She scored twice in the final minute and a half of the period, and Exeter led 10-9.

"We don't stall,

we play ball!"

The Lady Wildcats grew optimistic as the second quarter clock rolled. Felecia Chadd drove past Edie in the lane for a lay-up to regain the lead for Verona, 11-10. Jessica Smith followed suit, driving down the right side of the lane and kissing a one-hander off the glass for a 13-10 score.

The second tie of the game came at 14-14 when Katie Chadd scored on an inbound play for Exeter with 6:00 on the second quarter clock. Verona snatched the lead back at 17-14 with Bigham's trey from the left corner. The Lady Tigers connected the scoreboard dots with consecutive baskets by Edie and Destani Stensrud for an 18-17 Exeter lead.

Verona's Ryan Yates called timeout from the bench to refocus his team on the game plan. The Verona girls shot threes almost exclusively in the opening frame but challenged the lane more often in the second quarter. Challenging Edie in the paint does not usually yield positive results.

After the strategy session, a long Verona attempt missed, but Tanya Waggoner rebounded and scored for a 19-18 Verona lead with 2:10 to play before halftime. The Lady Wildcats survived a flurry of Exeter shots without surrendering a basket, and Verona set up on offense with 1:50 on the clock.

Verona resumed the stall and milked 58 seconds off the clock before Smith traveled. Katie Chadd slipped inside for a no-rim lay-up and a 20-19 Exeter lead, then Bowman intercepted a telegraphed pass and flew to a lay-up to beat the horn. The Lady Tigers went to the locker room ahead 22-19.

"We don't stall,

we play ball!"

Exeter, the top-ranked Missouri girls team in Class 1, opened the third quarter with a deliberate statement, punctuated by Edie's miss, rebound and score to push the lead to 24-19.

Down by 5 points in the third quarter of the district finals, Verona went to the all out stall. Not the "pass around and pretend we are going to shoot" stall, but the "stand at half court with the ball cradled in your arm and try to outwait the defense" stall that totally infuriates basketball purists.

There is no shot clock in high school basketball, and the stall game is an accepted part of a team's repertoire. Fans understand the philosophy of stalling with a lead and trying to reach the final buzzer with a win, but stalling while behind requires greater suspension of one's natural instincts.

The cat and mouse game continued, with Exeter's cats guarding the lane and refusing to come out of the zone defense. Exeter Coach Jason Cole counseled patience from the Exeter bench. After all, there is no such thing as a five-point shot in basketball. The officials concentrated on the pivot foot of Verona's Felicia Chadd, in case she forgot which foot was which as her last movement with the ball faded from memory.

When the clock yawned past 15 seconds, Verona shifted into offensive mode, and Bigham launched and missed a trey. Carasquillo recorded the rebound and putback at the buzzer and pulled Verona within 24-21 at the end of the third.

"We don't stall,

we play ball!"

The repetitious chant gained strength from the Exeter crowd as the game plodded along. Verona inbounded the ball to begin the fourth quarter and resumed the stall game. When Carasquillo tried to catch Exeter napping with a corner trey, Edie bounded across the court and swatted the shot harmlessly across the baseline.

Exeter's Bowman committed a common foul at the 6:15 mark, and Verona deflated the ball again. Felecia Chadd, Smith and Carasquillo ran a mindless weave out front. MSHSAA could have installed a sundial to time this game instead of the digital electronic version.

With only 3:22 left to play, Verona's senior guard, Felecia Chadd, missed a trey attempt from the top of the key. Her shot attempt caught even her own teammates off guard, and Edie was off to the races with the rebound. Her flying lay-up rattled home and she was fouled in the process by Jessica Smith.

No free throw misses this time. Edie's true shot gave Exeter a 27-21 lead.

"We don't stall,

we play ball!"

Trailing by half a dozen points, Verona had to abandon the all-out stall. A new problem loomed for the Lady Wildcats, as the clock strangulation had shortened the game so much that neither team had opportunity to foul. With time an issue late in the fourth, Verona had only two team fouls and had to waste precious seconds accumulating enough infractions to force Exeter to the foul line.

Even though the Lady Tigers would miss four of their seven free throws in the final 1:15, including three front ends of one-and-one chances, Verona would not score at all in that time frame, and Exeter won a second straight district title, 30-21.

Edie led all scorers with 17 points. One direct result of the Verona stall was the dearth of scoring. Only Edie reached double digits. Carasquillo led Verona with her 8 points.

The Exeter Lady Tigers advance to sectional play next week, when they play Humansville at 7:45 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10 at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar. A win at Bolivar would earn a trip to State Fair Community College in Sedalia for a 2:45 p.m. quarterfinal game on Saturday, March 14.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: