Lady Eagles enter pivotal week
Purdy spurred by 12-point win over Cassville
One huge game looms on the Purdy girls basketball team's schedule this week.
The Lady Eagles (9-1) host a varsity boys-and-girls double header, against Pierce City on Friday.
Purdy is still knocking off the rust of playing just three games since Dec. 15.
On Friday, the Lady Eagles shook off a sluggish start and rolled to a 60-48 road victory over Cassville.
"I think you saw the effect of that long layoff in the first quarter and a half," said Eli Ernst, Purdy coach. "Once we turned the pressure up, we started looking like the team I'm used to seeing. We worked on pushing the tempo in practice. We thought that would be our biggest advantage heading into this match."
Junior Layne Skiles led the charge, both in points (25) and creating frustration, against the Lady Wildcats.
"We kind of came in with a chip on our shoulders," Skiles said. "We knew that this was a big game for Cassville, but we also knew that we wanted it more. When you can pressure and frustrate a team, it makes you go harder as a player."
Skiles said the Lady Eagles believe their biggest strength this season is understanding their identity.
"We understand that we have to pressure and turn teams over," she said. "On offense, we have to play as a team if we want to win."
The Lady Eagles forced 12 Cassville turnovers in the second and third quarters alone. The Lady Wildcats were visibly disoriented on the floor, and the bench was verbally displeased on the sidelines, so much so that Cassville Coach Chris Shore drew two technical fouls and was ejected from the game in the fourth quarter.
For one Purdy player, the win was even more satisfying.
"I was nervous coming in here to play," said Devyn Callahan, who started for Cassville last season. "Playing in this gym, I had some extra motivation [to beat them]."
Callahan has given the Lady Eagles a needed counter-punch to the season.
With Skiles drawing double-team attention on defense, Callahan and Sami House kept Cassville at bay.
"I love coaching this team," Ernst said. "These girls know that they need to help out in order for us to win. We are able to keep running our offense because they understand how to step up."
Callahan said the tempo is the biggest difference playing for Purdy this season.
"We are a lot more up tempo," she said. "I like it. This is a fun team to play on."
Scoring for Purdy: Skiles, 25; Sami House, 14; Callahan, 11; Zoe Brown, 6; and Rion Boyd, 4.
Tipoff against Pierce City is set for 6 p.m.