Title proves right medicine for Lady 'Cats
Cassville roars into 2017
A huge stress test awaits the Cassville girls basketball team as they welcome a solid Purdy team to town on Friday.
"This game is going to test if what happened in Southwest was a one-time occurrence or is sustainable," said Chris Shore, Cassville coach. "We've taken one good step, and now, we have a chance to take another. We do that, and we begin to pick up a little steam in the new year."
While they only played two games in the five-team Southwest Holiday Tournament, Shore lived and died a hundred deaths with his team.
In the end, it was the Lady Wildcats that lifted their coach and school to the tournament championship with a 50-44 win over Pea Ridge (Ark.).
Cassville (7-3) opened the tournament with an ugly 51-33 win over Wheaton. Shore was not hesitant to express his displeasure with his squad's performance on the court and in practice the next day.
"I felt that we just got by in the Wheaton game," Shore said. "The Lady Bulldogs are much improved from last year, but we lacked the fire and intensity that I want every game. Wheaton played their hearts out and I told the team to take note."
Shore said his squad had a great practice and focused on upping the energy level against a Lady Blackhawks team full of shooters.
"We work on our defensive intensity and pressure," Shore said. "I told the girls that if we don't close out on their shooters and contest shots, we're not going to win."
The team took heed to their coach's message and proved it by racing out to an 11-0 lead over Pea Ridge in the first quarter.
Madi Stokes was huge in the first eight minutes of the game with 7 points and two blocks.
"Madi's game has just gotten stronger," Shore said. "When she plays well, others have a chance to step up and contribute as well."
Pea Ridge finally found its rhythm and needed just over two minutes of the second quarter to knot the score at 15-15.
The Lady Wildcats restored order with six quick points, but the long range shooting of Pea Ridge kept the game nip and tuck.
The Lady Blackhawks led by as many as three points, 35-32, with a pair of steals by Hollyn Davis resulting in layups for Avrey Dayberry and Jennifer Anthony with two minutes remaining in the third quarter. Those two layups were the only two-point baskets Pea Ridge converted in the game.
The Lady Blackhawks hit a dozen 3-pointers (46 percent), but only shot 31 percent for the game because of the poor shooting inside.
"Our girls swarmed to the ball inside the arc," Shore said. "We didn't have our absolute best perimeter defense, but we took everything inside away."
Kandace Wallace and Hallie Long spurred a 10-0 counter charge to give the Lady Wildcats a 46-38 lead in the fourth quarter.
Pea Ridge had one final attempt to tie the game at 49, but Stokes blocked her fourth shot of the game and the Lady Wildcats hit free throws to seal the win.
"We needed this win," Shore said. "We needed to proved we could grind out a tough physical game. This effort is what we have to have in the new year."
Scoring for Cassville: Stokes, 21; Wallace, 13; Long, 6; Audra Brooks, 4; Ashlyn Howe, 4; Macey Parsons, 2.
For their tournament efforts, Stokes, Long and Howe were named to the all-tournament team. Stokes earned tournament MVP honors.