PORTAGEVILLE - The Portageville Lady Bulldogs captured the Bootheel Conference Tournament title at home on Thursday night over the Campbell Lady Camels, 52-36.
The win was especially gratifying for Portageville head coach Eric Ellerbrook and his club.
"This is the school's first ever conference tournament title," said Ellerbrook. "The girls really wanted this win, especially our three seniors (Hannah Rone, DeAnna Deere and Lauren Kellams). Those girls led the way tonight with their leadership and desire on the court."
Campbell came into the championship game without the services of two of their leading scorers who were out with injuries. With only six players available for the game, the Lady Camels had trouble with Portageville's full-
court pressure and committed 32 turnovers.
"We had two players who average 18 and 11 points per game out for the entire tournament," said Campbell head coach Daren Ellsworth. "We were hurting without them in the lineup. Turnovers just killed us tonight and they took advantage."
The Lady Bulldogs broke open the game early in the second quarter. After both teams played to a 10-10 tie in the first quarter, Portageville went on a 12-1 run in the second to take a 22-13 lead with five minutes to play in the half.
Portageville ran with the momentum after the big early run in the second quarter and outscored Campbell 22-5 in the second to take a 32-15 lead into the half. Sophomore Brittney Walker jump started the Lady Bulldogs in the quarter with 10 points.
The Lady Camels had trouble with the physical play of Portageville and committed 16 turnovers in the first half.
"I hate to even mention the officiating," said Ellsworth, "but they let Portageville play aggressive and get away with a few things. I don't know if the girls were taken out of their game by the way it was called tonight, but we couldn't get anything going."
Ellerbrook conceded that the officiating definitely favored his Lady Bulldogs.
"The ref's let us play," said Ellerbrook. "We like to play physical and they let us play our game. We took advantage of how the game was being officiated."
While Campbell had trouble with turnovers, they did control the boards on the night. With a 30-21 advantage in the rebounding department, the Lady Camels played tough with Portageville in the second half and outscored the Lady Bulldogs in the half, 21-20.
Portageville's huge second quarter could not be overcome by Campbell. The Lady Bulldogs had 15 steals as a team and hit 14 free-throws, compared to two for the Lady Camels.
"I thought the girls pushed the ball and were aggressive towards the basket," said Ellerbrook. "We got some open looks and hit some shots. Our passing is getting better and our offense is starting to click."
The Lady Camels could not get any closer than 12 points in the fourth quarter and Portageville captured the trophy with a 16-point victory.
"Give all the credit to Portageville," said Ellsworth. "They are well-coached and have a talented team. Our girls battled but we just came up short in the end."
Walker led a balanced Portageville attack with 16 points, tied for the team led with five rebounds and had three steals. Rone had 14 points, three assists and three steals for the Lady Bulldogs.
Junior Kellye Penn was solid for Portageville with 11 points, four assists and three assists. Jeleea Drake had four points and five rebounds off the bench for the Lady Bulldogs.
Senior forward Dani Nelson led Campbell (13-5) with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Junior Shana Bader had eight points and nine rebounds, while Whitney Modlin had a nice all-around game for the Lady Camels with seven points, five assists, five steals and grabbed four rebounds.
Portageville (17-5) hosts East Prairie on Thursday at 6 p.m.