The first half was definitely no championship performance – by either team.
ROLLA – The first half was definitely no championship performance – by either team.
Fortunately for the Waynesville High School girls' basketball team the second half was a much different story.
The top-seeded Lady Tigers snapped out of a first-half funk and put together a championship effort after intermission to wrap of the Missouri Class 5 District 10 Tournament title with a 52-36 victory over third-seeded Washington Thursday night at the Rolla High School gym.
It is the second consecutive district tournament championship for the Lady Tigers.
Waynesville, now 13-13, advances to Class 5 Sectional action at 7:45 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6 at Camdenton High School. The Waynesville Lady Tigers will certainly have their hands full on Wednesday, taking on the District 9 Tourney champion, which will be either Columbia Hickman (22-4) or defending state champion Columbia Rock Bridge (20-). Rock Bridge clobbered Waynesville in last year's sectional round.
Hickman is scheduled to play Rock Bridge in the girls' District 9 title game at 5 p.m. Saturday at Hickman High School.
The Washington Lady Jays end their season with a 15-11 mark.
On Thursday the Lady Tigers fired out to a 5-0 lead and never trailed. However, the first half was full of uneven play on both ends, featuring a rash of turnovers.
It was a one-point game inside the final two minutes of the first half before Waynesville went on a 7-0 run, keyed by five points off the bench from 5-10 junior forward Jordan Laughlin.
Laughlin's layup at the :35 mark gave the Lady Tigers their largest edge of the first half, 21-13. Waynesville led 21-14 at intermission.
"With the players we have in different roles; they want to win and they want to do good," said WHS head coach Brittany Matlock, who has captured three district tournament championships in her five seasons as Lady Tiger head coach and two others as a Waynesville assistant. "Both sides had the same jitters coming out and you could see that throughout the first (half).
"The second half we said, 'Hey, we're getting good looks, we've just got to finish.' And I thought (5-6 senior guard) Dorothy (Adams) did a great job on (Washington's Courtney Kedroski)."
The Lady Tigers began to finish with more frequency in the third period, outscoring Washington 15-7 in the quarter. Kallie Bildner, a 5-10 freshman forward, netted five points and 5-6 sophomore guard Chelsea Howser added four to lead the WHS third-quarter charge.
Waynesville led 36-21 heading into the fourth period. The Lady Tigers scored the first five points of the final quarter to take their largest lead.
Hannah Bland, a 5-10 junior forward, hit 1-of-2 free throws at the 5:55 mark to give Waynesville a 41-21 edge. WHS led by at least 14 the rest of the way.
Bildner and Bland each had 14 points for the winners, with Bildner adding nine rebounds; Bland five assists and five steals, and Laughlin and 5-9 senior forward Hannah Finger six boards each.
The Lady Tigers connected on 21-of-39 free throw attempts.
Paige Carpenter, a 5-8 freshman guard, netted 15 points for Washington.
"You go to your tried and tested group and I thought our older kids stepped up and did a great job," Matlock said.
Matlock says it doesn't matter who the Lady Tigers see on Wednesday – they are going to be a load.
"Both Hickman and Rock Bridge are really good," she said. "If we can get past the fact it's Rock Bridge or Hickman and put the past away... We've just got to be able to score, take care of the ball and defend. Their height definitely creates problems; you've just got to go out and play."
Waynesville (13-13): Bildner 4-6-14, Howser 1-2-4, Laughlin 3-1-8, Finger 2-6-10, Adams 0-2-2, Bland 5-4-14, Totals 15-21-52.
Washington (15-11): K. Leslie 4-0-8, Kedroski 0-3-3, Evans 0-4-4, Carpenter 5-2-15, Kackley 3-0-6, Totals 12-9-36.