Lady Wildcats runners-up at Southwest

Wednesday, January 5, 2022
Cassville’s girls basketball players accepted the runner-up trophy at the Southwest Holiday Tournament last week. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

Cassville bested by Gentry in Holiday Tournament

The Cassville girls basketball team enjoyed a merry swhishmas in Southwest last week, taking second place in the 8th Annual Girls Southwest Holiday Tournament.

The No. 3 Lady Wildcats bested No. 6 Reeds Spring in the first round, 45-25, then upset No. 2 Wheaton, 41-26. Cassville met top-seeded Gentry (Ark.) in the championship, ultimately falling 47-29.

Marianne McCrackin, an All-Tournament Team honoree, is fouled during a layup in the championship game of the Southwest Holiday Tournament. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

The Lady Wildcats started the contest hot, going on a 6-0 run to start the game and taking an 11-6 lead after the first quarter thanks to two Ashlynn Bryann 3-pointers and two blocks by Pazlee Burbridge.

The next quarter, however, went Gentry’s way bigtime. The Lady Pioneers went on a 14-1 run, taking the lead at 4:35 to go. In the third quarter, Gentry’s 6-point lead extended to 15 after the Lady Pioneers staved of a Lady Wildcats comeback with quick back-to-back 3-pointers.

In the final seconds of the third quarter, Cassville came up with a steal, but Gentry intercepted a pass up the court and put in a bucket at the buzzer.

Sharayah Seymour, an All-Tournament Team honoree, puts up a shot during the championship game of the Southwest Holiday Tournament. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

In the final frame, Gentry used its motion passing to run down the clock and secure the win.

All game long, the Lady Pioneers’ interior passes gave Cassville fits, using motion to open up holes in the paint for lob passes and short-range shots.

Reed Smith, Cassville girls basketball coach, said his Lady Wildcats prepped well for Gentry, but the Lady Pioneers’ shooters did their jobs.

Riley Morris makes a shot in the Lady Wildcats’ win over Wheaton in the Southwest Holiday Tournament semifinals. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

“We watched their film and knew their tendencies and sets,” Smith said. “Then, they switched to a dribble-drive, and we keyed in on a couple kids but they had too many shooters on the floor to guard everyone tight.

“I feel we played as hard as we could. They just shot the ball really well.”

Smith said while there is always room to improve, the three games were the best his team has played all season long.

“We saw some wonderful things from our players,” Smith said. “Reeds Spring junked Sharayah and took her away, and Riley Morris answered that with her biggest game of the year. Defensively against Reeds and Wheaton, I was extremely happy. We played with a lot of intensity.

“Also I want to shout out Ashlynn Bryan and Madison Halterman. Ashlynn always defends the other team’s best player and had a phenomenal stretch over those three games, and Madison came off the bench for us against Wheaton and scored 12 points.”

Smith said going forward, the Lady Wildcats learned they can thrive in a man-to-man system.

“Defensively, we will be a force to be reckoned with in man defense,” he said. “We were doing a lot of zone early in the season and mixing in some man, but we played man all tournament and I liked what I saw.

“We also improved our offensive execution, running our actions the way they should be, and we got some good looks from it. Our confidence has grown, and that will only lead to bigger and better things.”

Three Lady Wildcats were named to the All-Tournament Team for their performances. The full All-Tournament Team includes:

• Bella Harter, Billings

• Jade Watson, Reeds Spring

• Monica Hinojosa, Wheaton

• Hannah Phillips, Marionville

• Lucy Newbury, Marionville

• Marianne McCrackin, Cassville

• Sharayah Seymour, Cassvillle

• Riley Morris, Cassville

• Kaitlyn Caswell, Gentry

• Alyssa McCarty, Gentry (Most Valuable Player)

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