After dropping four-in-a-row to start the season, the Waynesville girls team prevailed in its first game Friday, 47-40 over St. Clair.
Coach Brittany Matlock applauded her team for continuing to battle, despite recent woes.
Each of the things the coach highlighted in practice finally translated to the court in actual gameplay.
"We had confidence in ourselves and our teammates, we talked on defense, and were more aggressive on offense," Matlock said.
A true nail-biter, St. Clair rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to tie the game at 40 late in the fourth quarter. Senior guard Hannah Finger then sank a field goal after being fouled and made the subsequent free throw to regain control of the match-up.
"Everyone was excited when she made it and got fouled," the coach said. "It definitely gave us the momentum shift."
Before Finger's heroics, Matlock was worried St. Clair would close in and that her team would add another notch to the loss column, but she and her squad remained confident and the Lady Tigers closed out the game.
"As the game went on, I could tell that [the girls] wanted it," Matlock said. "I was very proud to see that we didn't quit."
Waynesville finished the contest on a 7-0 run, including Finger's heroic made basket.
Now, for the first time in school history, Matlock's team will participate in the heavily competitive Route 66 Shootout, Pulaski County USA, against Laquey, an annual Frisco League contender.
"Anytime we are invited to participate in a prestigious sporting event like the Waynesville Shootout, it's an honor," said James Roberts, Laquey's athletic director. "I know the Laquey community is very excited and looking forward to the game."
The victory at St. Clair may play a large role in how Waynesville finishes the season, but defeating a strong Laquey team will be a tall task.
In the latest recorded game on MaxPreps.com, Laquey lost to Frisco Conference rival Licking, but still managed to paste 42 points to the scoreboard.
Matlock said her student-athletes must continue to improve and focus on one game at a time, instead of taking a step back and enjoying the previous victory.
Against Laquey Matlock said "we have a great opportunity to move forward and show that we've made progress."
In practice, Waynesville has completed many passing drills and emphasized maximizing each possession, both on offense and defense. The improvements in the Lady Tigers from the season opener and now are vast, and the latest success on the road shows it.
On the idea of sandwiching wins together, Matlock said, "That would be great."