Although the Lady Wildcats fell to 10-10 overall and 0-2 in the Big 8 Conference, there was still something to celebrate.
Senior Emily Speakman scored the 1,000th point of her Lady Wildcat career. Speakman entered the contest with 996 career points.
Chris Shore's basketball style is not designed to produce great offensive numbers, just wins. A perfect quarter of Lady Wildcat basketball is 4-3: Cassville scores twice and forces the opposition to shoot a trey.
Shore does not dispute the description of his style of play. He is also quick to point out that "Emily takes a lot of shots. She doesn't get cheated on attempts."
After a 30-point night against Clever on Jan. 24, Speakman's pump was primed for a big night against Big 8 rival Carl Junction.
Kelsey Baker rolled inside and scored the game's first hoop to give Cassville a quick 2-0 lead, and Speakman scored in the lane at the 6:42 mark to put the crowd on edge. With the game tied at 9-9, Speakman pulled up at the left edge of the free throw line and drained an arcing jump shot to reach the 1,000-point plateau.
The energized Lady Wildcats finished the quarter on an 11-6 run to lead 20-15.
The Carl Junction girls staged their own celebration in the second quarter. With the Cassville crowd watching in disbelief, CJ ripped off 13 unanswered points to start the period. Speakman finally broke the run with a press-breaker layup, but Carl Junction led by 28-22.
The Lady Wildcats missed six of seven free throws in the period, including three front ends of one-and-one opportunities.
The Lady Bulldogs controlled the boards, the lane, forced turnovers and shot lights out in taking a 35-29 halftime lead.
The third quarter saw Cassville unravel against CJ's relentless defensive pressure. That period became a 16-2 run as the Lady Bulldogs pushed to a 51-31 lead at the final break.
The lead reached 31 with 2:32 remaining in the game, and Carl Junction coasted to the 66-41 final.
Scoring for Cassville: Speakman, 18 points; Britani Long, 7; and Lindsey Nolan, Baker, Sydney Curnes and Brooke Fields, 4 each.
Scoring for Carl Junction: Brenlee McPherson, 13 points; Bryce Boyd, 10; Maria Chism and Katie Skaggs, 9 apiece; Sydney Koch, 8; Bradyn Wall, 7; Sam Kopp and Olivia Urich, 4 apiece; and Taylor Beck, 2.
An impressive scoring night by Speakman went for naught as the Cassville Lady Wildcats dropped a 57-51 decision at Clever on Jan. 24.
Speakman poured in a game-high 30 points to push her career total to 996 points, but it was the Lady Bluejays that celebrated the victory.
Free throws and three-point shooting provided the difference in this game. The Lady Wildcats struggled at the line, hitting only seven of 13 attempts, while the Lady Bluejays hit 10 of 16 to echo the Anchorman quote: "Sixty percent of the time, it works every time."
The disparity from beyond the arc was even greater. Clever rained seven of 15 from long distance, while Cassville managed only a pair of treys in the game.
The Lady Wildcats held a slim 13-11 lead after the first quarter, but the Clever girls took the second stanza, 14-6. That quarter was the difference in the game, as the teams played to a 32-32 stalemate in the second half.
"We battled," said Shore. "It was a struggle to contain their quickness."