The Exeter Tigers and Lady Tigers basketball teams split an Ozark 7 Conference doubleheader with Verona on Dec. 4.
The Lady Tigers (1-0, 1-0) won the first contest of the double header 43-37 over the Lady Wildcats. The Tigers (1-3, 0-1) fell 50-42 to the Wildcats.
In the varsity girls contest, the Lady Wildcats took a 37-36 lead with 1:50 left in the game but were outscored 7-0 the remainder of the way to fall 43-37 to Exeter.
The two conference opponents played to a 3-3 tie after one quarter of play.
Exeter opened the second period with a 9-0 run before Taylor Pinkly's free throw ended the run with 2:30 left in the half.
The Lady Tigers took an 18-12 lead into intermission.
The Lady Wildcats stepped up the pressure in the third period, twice trimming the deficit to 2 points (25-23, 27-25) only to see Exeter hit shots to re-establish a 4-point cushion.
The Lady Tigers led 33-27 to open the fourth period.
Verona, behind a basket from Hannah Hilton and 6 points from Pinkly, allowed the Lady Wildcats to grab a 1-point, 37-36 lead.
Kitana Gregory responded for Exeter with two free throws to give the Lady Tigers the lead for good.
Scoring for Exeter: Logan Senters, 14 points; Bailey Bowman, 11; Gregory, 7; Rayanna Fare, 4; Rylie Odenbrett, 3; and Hannah Henson and Katie Peck, 2 each.
Scoring for Verona: Taylor Pinkly, 17; Tori Pinkly, 6; Jessica Youngberg, 5; Shelby Barsotti, 4; and Hilton, 2 points.
Verona jumped out to a 15-0 lead in the game's first three minutes behind baskets from Ascencion Estrada, Dalton Miller, Brent Downs, Seth Losack and free throws from Dre Sitton.
Frustrated with his team's start, Exeter Coach Jay Allen sent five subs into the game two minutes after the tipoff.
"It all comes down to coaching," said Allen. "I didn't do a good enough job to get us ready to play."
The Tigers finally got on the board when Austin Johnson hit a five-foot jump shot with 4:48 to play in the first period.
The Wildcats held a 24-10 edge after the first frame.
Exeter hung tough in the contest and opened the second period with a 6-0 run to trim the lead to 24-16 with 4:36 left in the half.
Verona responded and outscored the Tigers 8-4 to lead 32-20 at the break.
The Wildcats have quickly forged an identity for playing a gritty and grinding defensive style.
The third quarter was, in a word, ugly. Several missed shots and turnovers plagued both teams.
The Wildcats' pressure defense held Exeter to two made free throws, one each by Colten Stringer and Kong Lee in the third period.
Verona scored 8 points in the third period to take a 40-22 lead into the final quarter.
The Tigers had no intention of going quietly.
Exeter opened the final quarter with a 14-5 run to close the gap to 36-45 with 3:40 left in the game.
However, a basket by Losack and a layup by Downs kept the Tigers from closing the gap completely.
Scoring for Exeter: Johnson, 11 points; Lee, 9; James Kho, 7; Ty Pendergraft and Stringer, 4 each; Blake Walker, 3; and Kyle Evatt and Terry Cook, 2 apiece.
Scoring for Verona: Downs, 17 points; Ascencion Estrada and Sitton, 9; Losack, 8; Tomas Estrada, 4; and Dalton Miller, 3.
The Tigers host Hurley on Dec. 14. The Lady Tigers play Greenfield on Dec. 13. Both contests are set for a 6 p.m. tipoff.