"Don't go in the corner," Chris Shore repeated to his Lady Wildcats. "Penetrate gaps!"
Shore was fired up after watching his charges repeatedly turn the ball over against Mt. Vernon's trapping defense. Time and time again in that first quarter, the Lady Mountaineers invited Cassville ball handlers into the corner, only to force a series of turnovers when the bait was taken.
In the second quarter, Raeghan Blisard scored with an offensive rebound and canned a pair of short jumpers to help the Lady Cats trim that lead to 25-18 at the half. Hesitation was replaced by confidence with each passing minute and the Cassville crowd roared its approval when the teams adjourned for halftime.
But the third quarter saw fortunes reversed. Audrey LaSalle swished a trey from the right corner just eight seconds into the period and the Lady Mountaineers claimed a 10-point lead. The lead crept inexorably higher as Mt. Vernon's intensity level increased. The horn that signaled the final break saw the Lady Mountaineers in front, 50-30.
Mt. Vernon never led by less than 20 in the fourth quarter but they could not gain a running clock either. The Lady Wildcats played hard to the end, falling by a score of 60-40.
Prior to the game, Coach Shore took time to discuss the special events planned for the February 4 home game against Monett. On that night, Shore and his Lady Wildcats will host activities to raise funds for Parkinson's Research. Special shirts will be sold for the game, and planned events include a 50/50 drawing.
"We will have a more formal announcement of activities in the week before the game," Shore said.
Scoring for Cassville: Blisard, 14 points; Emily Speakman and Sydney Curnes, 8 each; Katelyn Pitts and Britani Long, 4 apiece; and Kelsey Baker, 2.
Scoring for Mt. Vernon: LaSalle, 16 points; Mackenzie Farmer, 14; Tamiaya Henderson, 8; Karlie Meeks, 6; Megan Pope, Blair Tettenhorst, and Laynie Dake, 4 each; and Shae Vandergrift and Shallyn Benbrook, 2 apiece.