Purdy girls make statement in latest win
Post presence of Ennes, Skiles key part of team's success
Going into Friday night's matchup with Pierce City, the Purdy girls basketball team was a little nervous.
It was not because the Lady Eagles were scared or intimidated by their opponent, but because they knew, if they played their game, they would win.
"Pierce City is a really good team and I think people have underestimated them for the last few seasons," said Eli Ernst, Purdy coach. "We knew we had a good game plan, and if we executed, we'd be successful."
The two teams had met four times in the last two years, with the green and white clad Lady Eagles winning all four meetings and outscoring Purdy, 264-171.
By the time the final horn sounded Friday, Purdy changed that and claimed the battle of the Lady Eagles, 47-39. After the game, Ernst disagreed with the notion of his team getting the proverbial monkey-on-its-back against a Pierce City squad that had dominated for two seasons.
However, the team's glee and cheering from the locker room said otherwise.
The difference for Purdy on Friday was easy to spot. The Lady Eagles controlled the middle of the paint.
"We did a great job of keeping Pierce City from establishing anything in the middle of the lane," Ernst said. "Desirie [Ennes] and Layne [Skiles] were so big for us in the middle. They challenged everything."
Purdy's interior duo blocked seven shots and combined to score 24 points.
"I get up for every game, because you don't know if it will be your best or last," Ennes, who scored the team's first 6 points said she thought the team's size was a big factor that helped it pull away.
Skiles, a freshman, is described by Ernst as a player that knows the game so well she plays like and upperclassmen.
"Since our first game, she has grown by leaps and bounds," Ersnt said. "The great thing is that it hasn't just been her maturity, the whole team has gotten stronger, physically and mentally."
Purdy gobbled up 26 rebounds with Ennes and Skiles accounting for 13. On 22 occasions, Purdy held Pierce City to one shot.
"Rebounding is about watching the ball, understanding angles and getting yourself into position," Ennes said. "When you control the boards, it makes winning the game easier."
For three quarters, the teams exchanged the lead six times and were tied four times. Neither squad had a lead greater than 6 points in the first three periods.
Pierce City's Bailee Hayward, who finished the game with 19 points, tied the game at 27-27 with 7:42 remaining in the fourth quarter, but Purdy countered with an 11-2 surge. Purdy also finished the game 16-of-19 (84 percent) at the free throw line.
"We forced them to settle for jump shots instead of getting layups," Ernst said. "Tonight was a total team win. We now must build off this going forward."
Purdy plays in the Galena Tournament this week, where it earned the No. 1 seed. Cassville and Galena are slotted in the second and third spots, respectively. The No. 4 seed is Forsyth, and Springfield Greenwood is seeded fifth. Seeds 6-8 are Seymour, Reeds Springs and Wheaton, respectively.