An old cliché says one play doesn't define a game's outcome. In Thursday's match-up against the Marshfield Lady Blue Jays, the Waynesville Lady Tigers squad was devastated by one play in the closing seconds of the team's first overtime period this season.
Down by as many as 12 points in the first quarter, Waynesville clawed its way back into contention throughout the second half before taking its first lead at 42-40 on freshman Kallie Bildner's made hook shot in the paint with less than three minutes remaining in the contest.
About battling back within striking distance, Waynesville coach Brittany Matlock said her team would have been in much better shape if "we didn't dig ourselves a hole."
"If we would've had the same intensity we had in the second half and in overtime in the first half, I think we wouldn't even be in that situation," Matlock said.
Resilient, the opposing Marshfield unit held its ground and forced an overtime period by trading three-pointers with the Lady Tigers and knotting the score at 47-all.
In the extra period, Marshfield's junior guard Lauren Aldridge took charge and sank two consecutive field goals to take a 51-48 lead.
But in the ensuing three possessions, senior guard Hannah Finger netted a deep jumper and recorded a steal on defense, which set up sophomore Chelsey Howser for a chance to recapture the lead, but Howser capitalized on only 1-of-2 bonus free throw attempts to knot the score again at 51.
By this point in the contest, players on both teams were huffing and puffing and it showed in lackadaisical offensive play. Both Waynesville and Marshfield committed turnovers in the final minute of the game, which gave Waynesville the ball with 6.5 seconds remaining.
The inbound pass was stolen away by a Marshfield guard and by hustling up the court in desperation, the Lady Blue Jays' Peyton Greenlee (fr.) hucked a shot from just below the elbow and was fouled just before the buzzer.
The Waynesville squad could only watch in shock as Greenlee sank the go-ahead free throw with 0.0 seconds remaining on the game clock to win, 52-51.
Still smiling, Matlock addressed the late-game foul after the dramatic conclusion.
"What can you do about it?" Matlock asked. "We always tell the girls that one possession doesn't define us as a team; one possession didn't decide the outcome of that game."
Indeed, there were several factors that stuck the Lady Tigers with another notch in the loss column.
After committing 4 shooting fouls in the first quarter and several more in the second, Marshfield added 10 first half points on 10-of-13 free throw shooting.
"We try to stress to the girls hands off and getting in correct position," Matlock said. "The officials call what they see and whether or not coaches agree or disagree with the call, we have to live with it and move on."
Page 2 of 2 - Waynesville adapted to the situation created by first half foul trouble and we much more poised on defense in the second half.
Another issue, a gaping zone defensive scheme, also gave Marshfield two early three-pointers which immediately pushed Waynesville behind, 9-0 in the first quarter. Once again, Matlock's team hung around, corrected help defense and eventually took a lead late in the game – though it didn't last long.
In the team's first overtime contest this season, Matlock said never having been in that situation provided the experience needed to move forward and compete in close games down the stretch.
"I try to look at the positives in this," Matlock said, "for it to be close like that and us having to push and fight back, we learn from it, grow from it and move on."
If anything, Matlock said the game could "light a fire" under her players and push the Lady Tigers over the edge and help them compete as conference games ease their way into the tough schedule.
The Lady Tigers (8-9) move into Ozark Conference competition next week and are scheduled to play Rolla on Monday at 6 p.m.
Scoring summary: Waynesville – Bildner, fr., 14 points; Howser, soph., 11; Hannah Bland, jr., 11; Leslie Larson, sr., 6; Dorothy Adams, sr., 3; Hannah Finger, sr., 2; Jordan Laughlin, jr., 1.
Marshfield – Aldridge, jr., 24; Greenlee, fr., 10; Maddie McCall, sr., 9; Samantha French, soph., 6; Madison Clark, sr., 2; Lilia Theobald, soph., 2.
*Notes: Organized by the Waynesville High School FCLA, the Lady Tigers players and coaches donned pink-colored gear last night to support breast cancer awareness and research.