Southwest Lady Trojans drop Diamond in Class 3 district opener
The Southwest Lady Trojans ended a long run of playoff disappointments with a 67-34 victory over Diamond at Seneca on Monday, Feb. 18. The opening round win in the Class 3 District 12 Tournament vaulted the Lady Trojans into a semifinal contest with top-seeded Ash Grove, a 53-21 winner over Sarcoxie.
Five Lady Trojans scored in double figures as Brad Phillips' team stormed out of the locker room and took control from the opening tip.
"We were focused. We locked down defensively," said Phillips. "We didn't press or extend our defense because I didn't want to give up any easy shots or transition baskets."
That defensive strategy worked flawlessly.
In the first period, Southwest pitched a shutout against everyone on the Diamond team not named Cady Littlefield. Littlefield managed 6 points on a field goal and four free throws, but the Lady Trojans opened with a 9-2 run and claimed a 15-6 lead at the first break.
Shannon Mitchell opened the scoring with a long trey and encored with another bomb to start the second quarter. With Southwest already leading 37-20 late in the period, Michaela Mitchell drove and scored with an off-balance flip, and then Nicole Ickes came up with a steal and a coast-to-coast breakaway in the waning seconds to create the 41-20 halftime score.
Jaime Shrum canned a trey to open the third quarter as the Lady Trojans moved out in front, 44-20. Back-to-back baskets by Taylor Mettlach and a free throw by Michaela Mitchell gave Southwest a 27-point lead at the 5:27 mark.
Diamond came alive to piece together an 8-0 run midway through the third stanza as Hanna Million's consecutive baskets sparked the outburst. An Ickes layup ended the Diamond run though, and Mettlach's jumper in the lane gave the Lady Trojans a 53-32 advantage at the final break.
Southwest owned the final clock-shortened frame, outscoring the Lady Wildcats 14-2 over the last eight minutes.
But a cruel twist of fate robbed the Lady Trojans and their fans of the joy of the postseason milestone victory. Michaela Mitchell, one of Southwest's senior leaders and a 1,000-point career scorer, went down hard in a loose-ball melee at the 1:14 point of the third quarter. She would not return, and her status for Thursday's semifinal is extremely doubtful.
"You hate that," said Coach Phillips at courtside after the game. "We've been pretty much injury free all year."
The Lady Trojans (25-3) play Ash Grove (21-6) at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Seneca.
Southwest scorers: Nicole Ickes, 15; Shannon Mitchell, 12; Michaela Mitchell, 11; Mettlach, 11; Jaime Shrum, 11; Montana Hendrix, 4; Cady Swindle, 3.
Diamond scorers: Littlefield, 16; Hanna Million, 10; Shayla Jones, 6; Meghen Dresslaer, 2.