After earning a top-10 mention in the Class 3 girls basketball rankings, the Southwest Lady Trojans suffered their first loss of the season at Ash Grove on Dec. 17.
The Lady Pirates stormed to a 30-19 halftime lead and never looked back in taking the 64-44 win.
Halee Cashio, of Ash Grove, led all scorers with 21 points. Michaela Mitchell scored 16 to lead Southwest.
Scoring for Southwest: Michaela Mitchell, 16 points; Nicole Ickes, 12; Taylor Mettlach, 7; Montana Hendrix, 4; Jaime Shrum, 3; and Shannon Mitchell, 2.
Scoring for Ash Grove: Cashio, 21 points; Katie Skelton, 15; Madi Johnson, 13; Abby Anco, 10; and Erin Weinreis, 5.
On Thursday, Dec. 20, Southwest's girls got back on track with a decisive 61-37 victory over Pea Ridge, Ark.
The Lady Trojans opened the first period with a 16-2 run that took the full eight minutes to build, and cruised to a 34-15 lead at half and 51-22 at the final break.
Shannon Mitchell and Hendrix both drained three treys in a shooting exhibition for the home team.
Conversely, Pea Ridge couldn't buy a basket in the early going. The Lady Blackhawks had a lot of open looks but their shots became outlets for the fast-breaking Lady Trojans.
There was a line of substitutes at both sides of the scorer's table throughout the second half.
Brad Phillips saw his Southwest team improve to 6-1 for the season, with the Walnut Grove tournament next on the schedule.
Scoring for Southwest: Shannon Mitchell, 18 points; Mettlach, 14; Hendrix, 13; Michaela Mitchell, 6; Ickes, 4; and Jaime Shrum, Cady Swindle and Jessica Morgan, 2.
"Our offense was their offense," Jess Ross noted after his Trojans dropped a 48-46 turnover-plagued game at Diamond on Dec. 18.
Southwest trailed by as many as 13 before making a late run to take a 48-46 lead. But the Wildcats rallied to take control of the game in the final period and claimed the 69-58 victory.
Diamond's balanced attack led to a 10-point lead after one quarter, with six Wildcats scoring in the frame. Trailing 18-8, Southwest poured in 19 second-quarter points to cut the lead to 33-27. James Pettit scored 10 points, including a pair of treys, in that quarter for the Trojans and Jordan Epling added 6.
Turnovers derailed the Southwest comeback in the second half.
Diamond sealed the deal by hitting nine of 10 fourth-quarter free throws. The Wildcats shot 33 freebies in the game, converting 24. Southwest shot only 12 free throws total, and shot only 50 percent from the line.
The Trojans are 3-3 on the season and will play Wheaton on Dec. 26 at 6 p.m. in the first round of the annual Southwest Holiday tournament at Washburn.
Scoring for Southwest: Pettit, 20 points; Epling, 16; Drew Farrar and Brad Daniels, 8 each; and Blake Barnes, 6.
Scoring for Diamond: Ryan Jinks, 22; Trent Hayes, 17; Logan Myers and Darren Russow, 10 apiece; Brodie Bien, 6; and Evan Moreland and Cort Hardy, 2 each.