A 23-1 run by the Lady Tigers to end the half created an insurmountable deficit

For nearly the first four and a half minutes of Thursday's basketball game against the 1-19 Hillcrest Lady Hornets the Waynesville Lady Tigers struggled offensively, scoring just one basket while turning the ball over six times.

A 7-0 run to end the first quarter allowed the Tigers to take an 11-8 lead and coach Brittany Matlock, ahem, explained to her team it would be in their best interest to play like they did in the latter half of the first quarter rather than the front end.

“We had a little discussion [between quarters],” Matlock said. “We started to do our assignments on defense and, obviously, I think it was our first five possessions were travels and missed shots. Really, just cleaned up on offense and we were able to convert off their turnovers.”

The conversation worked as her team gave up just five points in the second quarter and ended the half on a 23-1 run that stole away any hope Hillcrest had to pick up their second win of the season and helped Waynesville to a 74-31 walkover.

Four of the buckets in the run came via steals, one of which was Nina Kizzee interception of a Hornets' inbounds pass.

After she tossed the ball in the hole someone from the stands could be heard saying, “She does that all the time.”

It's true. She has had several stolen inbounds passes and resultant layups.

There's no secret recipe, Kizzee says, to her version of a “two-for-one.”

“I just try to sneak up on them, best way I can, without them noticing and I just try to take it,” she said.

Upon being told of the reaction of the amazed fan Kizzee flashes a smile.

“I try,” she said. “I try.”

In the third, Kizzee opened with a three and the Tigers went on a 9-3 run to begin the quarter and a 10-5 stretch to end it and expand their advantage to 61-23.

ReShawna Stone led all scorers with 24 points. Kizzee was next with 21, Kiara Shoulders 13, Ashton Pilz seven, Chandler Jones five and Afatia Poinsette four.

No Hornets player reached double digits.

Thursday's victory was the fourth win in a row for the Lady Tigers. Their last loss, 66-64 to Lutheran South, came on Jan. 23 in the first round of the Washington Tournament.

“Hopefully, it builds some confidence because we know next week's going to be a tough week with Camdenton coming here on Monday and going to West Plains on Thursday,” Matlock said.

However, that narrow defeat isn't the one Kizzee recalled when she spoke of her team's recent tear.

It was the 73-30 beating they took four days before that Washington tourney opener.

“It feels good to come back from the Lebanon game,” Kizzee said. “That was pretty devastating. So, we're trying to get back on track.”

Is that going to be a driving force that carries them into the district tournament that begins in just a few weeks?

No need for a long-winded discussion here. One simple but fervent word is suffice from Kizzee.

“Yes.”