Cinderella ‘Cats vie for district title

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Cassville upsets East Newton, Mt. Vernon

The Cassville girls basketball team is trying on ballroom slippers this week, aiming to Cinderella its way to a district championship.

The Lady Wildcats (14-13) entered the Class 4, District 12 Tournament as the No. 6 seed, tasked with No. 3 East Newton, earning a 31-29 upset victory.

On Tuesday, the Lady Wildcats showed the win wasn’t a farce, as they forced No. 2 Mt. Vernon out of the tournament with a 31-31 upset.

Reed Smith, Cassville girls basketball coach, said the victories at the tournament in Seneca can be greatly attributed to one thing — desire.

“The girls have wanted these victories,” he said. “The East Newton game during the regular season was one we really wanted to have back. Our girls knew we didn't have a great game against them, and they wanted that second chance.

“For Mt. Vernon our seniors have been waiting years to beat them, and this was their last opportunity. So, I am so happy for them that they were able to get that one.”

Going into the quarterfinal and semifinal matches, the Lady Wildcats had lost to East Newton, 44-31, and to Mt. Vernon, 45-33.

Now, Cassville turns its head to the top seed, No. 1 Seneca, who won the regular-season match-up, as well, 55-30.

“They are a well-coached team and have great shooters,” Reed said. “We are going to have to close out on shooters, disrupt shots, and limit offensive rebounds as much as possible. Offensively, we need to stay aggressive the whole game and keep attacking.”

Reed said another key will be to keep doing what the team has done all tournament defensively.

“The last two games, we held our opponents to 29 and 31 points, respectively,” he said. “The girls have done an amazing job limiting possessions and securing rebounds.”

The Lady Wildcats were ruthless on the boards against East Newton, raking in 48 rebounds to East Newton’s 29. Seymour led with 11 points and 7 boards, and Morris double-doubled with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Madison Halterman led on the boards with 11.

Against Mt. Vernon, the Lady Wildcats hit 8 three-pointers, but they were outrebounded, 30-25. Ashlynn Bryan led with 12 points, and Seymour added 10 and 7 rebounds.

Seneca received a bye in the first round and defeated No. 5 Lamar in the semifinals, 54-47.

The championship is set for Friday at 6 p.m. in Seneca.

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