Pierce City heads to district semis
Puckett bucket at halftime buzzer motivates Lady Eagles to win
A 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer on Monday was all the motivation Pierce City needed on Monday to push ahead for a quarterfinal district tournament win over Purdy, 48-36.
Chelsey Puckett popped the shot from beyond the arc, giving the Lady Eagles a 30-22 advantage at the break, the tightest scoreline for the remainder of the game.
“Any time you get a play like that to end a half or a quarter, it’s a huge momentum boost,” said Chris Randolph, Pierce City girls basketball coach. “That 3 may seem like only 3 points, but it was a dagger to Purdy. That 8-point lead at the half instead of 5 points made a difference in the ballgame.”
Pierce City (9-15) went on to extend the score to 40-27 at the end of the third, and by the final few minutes, the Lady Eagles were running sets and milking the clock to secure the win.
Randolph credited the victory to his girls just wanting to keep playing playoff basketball.
“Leslie [Jones] played very aggressive and just did not want to be done,” he said. “She’s a senior, and she wanted her season to go on. She played like she has all year, so that was no surprise.
“Keishia [Delgado] also played well. She guarded their best player all night, was strong with the ball and has one of her better games of the year.”
Delgado said the Puckett bucket was a huge motivator for her and her teammates to finish the game with purpose.
“That was a big boost to our confidence,” she said. “We were struggling against their press early, but when Chelsey hit that 3, it got us going. From there, we moved our feet, stayed focused and got after the ball.”
Randolph said another big key to the win was the Lady Eagles' ability to control the pace down the stretch.
“All year, we have been building to that,” he said. “At times this season, we have not had that composure, and we ran our offense about as good as we had all year. That last possession, we ran it for 25 seconds then found an open lay-up to really seal the win.”
The Lady Eagles now have the tallest of orders ahead, as next up is a 25-1 Miller squad that defeated them by more than 60 points on Jan. 26, 83-22.
“They are pretty good,” Randolph said. “Any time we have to play a team like that, we have to find the best way to attack them. We only scored 22 points the last time we played them, so we will have to improve there.”
Delgado said she and her teammates have to stay steady.
“We have to stay focused and calm, and play good basketball,” she said.
Pierce City heads to Miller Wednesday night for a 6 p.m. tip.
Scoring for Pierce City Monday: Leslie Jones, 18; Chelsey Puckett, 8; Madison Tindell, 8; Keishia Delgado, 7; Katie Tindell, 4; and Olivia Stanphill, 3.
Scoring for Purdy: Kinsley Mattingly, 17; Annabelle Bowman, 7; Dally Craig, 7; Bayleigh Robbins, 4; and Breanna Perkins, 1.