What started off as a back and forth game, with both teams pushing their noses out front, ended in a blowout loss for the Waynesville Lady Tigers Thursday.
The visiting Nixa Lady Eagles used a big 21 point third quarter to help give themselves an insurmountable lead and finished out the game with a 57-35 win.
Early on though, the game was a tight match in Waynesville.
After trailing most of the first quarter (but not by much) Bree Stoddard tied the game at 9 after she used a nice pivot move to shift around her opponent and finish with a nice right-handed layup that kissed the glass and fell through for 2.
Waynesville Head Coach Brittany Matlock said she has seen some nice improvement from her freshman forward.
“Stoddard does a good job for us and has come along well handling the ball for us and attacking the basket,” Matlock said. “And of course we have (Kallie) Bildner and (Hannah) Bland that are in there. We just have to be more consistent in what we're doing.”
The Eagles would surge forward before the first quarter was up and would have a 17-9 lead after the first buzzer.
After stealing the lead from Nixa a couple of times in the second quarter, the Tigers lost the wind that was in their sails and by the end of the half they once again had their backs against the wall.
Despite that, Matlock said her team would still fight themselves off of that proverbial wall.
“I was very proud of our effort,” Matlock said. “When we did get down early, we didn't quit. We talked well, rotated well on defense. We had a few turnovers, but we kept attacking on offense.”
All of that seemed to change though, in the second half.
Nixa exploded out of the gates in the third quarter and the shots seemed to keep raining down and before the dust settled the third quarter box score showed 21 points for Nixa with just 7 posted under the home team.
“We had a little fight in us (in the first half), but we didn't see much of that in the second half,” Matlock said. “We didn't execute offensively and defensively like we wanted to.”
The fourth quarter was easier on the Lady Tigers, but a 20-plus point deficit was too much to overcome and they would lose 57-35.
Matlock said she thought her team had a real shot of staying in Thursday's game, but it would've taken more than just piecing together a good quarter here and there.
Page 2 of 2 - “We just have to do better and condition ourselves mentally and physically to not have breakdowns,” Matlock said. “We have to put four quarters together. Against good teams you can't have off quarters.”
She also dispelled any questions about winter weather playing a role in her team's mental errors.
“We try to say there's no excuses. (We) don't want to make excuses for anything. The kids did the best they could and they came in and got to practice when they could. We just want to play, we don't want to see our games canceled obviously. We just have to deal with it and go on from there.”
Monday the Lady Tigers will play St. Clair, a game that was canceled due to weather last month, and Matlock said she and her team will need to play at a higher level than what they did Thursday.
“We saw St. Clair in the Rolla tournament. They're a good team and I expect nothing but their best effort so we'll have to come ready to play and be focused.”