(Photos by Josh Mills, Staff)
CHAFFEE -- Back-to-back titles were the end of the road for the Delta Lady Bobcats as the Kelly Lady Hawks held on to a small lead down the stretch to win the Chaffee Lady Devils Invitational 55-50 on Saturday evening. The Delta squad that has had the Lady Hawks' number for the past two years of the tournament couldn't pull it together down the stretch as Kelly's depth took the best of the Lady Bobcat team.
"I'm very proud of my girls," said Kelly head coach Rod McQuerter following the title game. "It's been a rough week for them. Like I told them, just have a positive attitude, play hard and play as a team."
"I started off bad, but I got with it and my teammates helped me out and I got my head up," said Powell. "Coach Rod told me that he needed me out there and to go lift my head up and keep playing. I was happy that I could help the team win."
Debra Hall, a stand-out force in the paint for the Lady Hawks, was held shy of her season average with 24 points, partially due to the fact that the Lady Bobcats doubled and triple-teamed her throughout all 32 minutes.
As for Powell's play off the bench, Hall said that 'she did an awesome job coming off the bench' and said 'that's what her team expects of her.'
McQuerter's motto is to have a positive attitude, play hard and play as a team. On Saturday, his squad did just that against what McQuerter calls 'one of the best teams in the state of Missouri.'
"That's why we have a tough schedule in the summer," said McQuerter. "(We do it) to prepare for situations like this. I'm very proud of the girls because they played as a team tonight. They strapped it up and came out ready to play."
Kelly's squad had to strap it up Saturday, because Delta wasn't going to go down without a fight. The two teams were all even at 12 points apiece after the first quarter, and the Lady Hawks led 30-27 at halftime.
In the second half, it was the Lady Bobcats who strung together a solid third quarter, pulling even at 42-42 going into the final eight minutes. The fourth quarter was the difference maker in the ballgame. Kelly pounded the ball down low and attacked the glass, and Delta head coach Mark Verticchio said that the Lady Hawks' experience paid off as the clock rolled down to a steady line of zeros.
"I told the girls after the game that the experience factor showed tonight," said Verticchio. "They (Kelly) had kids that weren't as tentative as some of ours. We had some girls with open looks and they didn't take them. That hurt us. That's where we can tell that some of these girls haven't played varsity before."
The experienced players for Verticchio's club, Jodi Menz and Taylor Smith, combined for 34 points. Menz had 20 and Smith finished with 14. He also spoke positively of junior Katie Brucker who scored 12 on the night.
"It was basically a game of runs," Verticchio said. "They (Kelly) basically had the last run. It happens. It was good for the fans and it was a great game to watch. (Our girls) don't have anything to be ashamed of."
Leading the way for the Lady Hawks was Hall with 24, Londyn Backfisch with nine, and Johnson, who also scored nine in the victory.
Up next for Kelly (4-0) is a home game against the East Prairie Lady Eagles while Delta (4-1) will travel to Saxony Lutheran. Both games are scheduled for 6 p.m.
Prior to the championship game, the Scott City Lady Rams fended off a much-improved East Prairie Lady Eagles team to take home the third place plaque in the tournament. The final outcome, 60-46, didn't show how well the Lady Eagles pressured the bigger Scott City team, but Katie Hogan and the Lady Rams managed to control the paint and the glass long enough to seal the victory.
The 6-3 freshman, Hogan, recorded a triple-double in the win with 13 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks. She was two steals shy of a quadruple-double as she stole three passes from the Lady Eagle offense.
East Prairie head coach Steven Douglas said that his squad just ran out of steam down the stretch against Scott City and said they didn't have a whole lot to put up against Hogan in the post.
"I think we were tired," said Douglas. "The girls got frustrated. Scott City hustled, every position, every person on the floor hustled and that kind of frustrated us today. The girls got caught up in that and they didn't play well on offense and we forced some shots. Scott City put us out of our ballgame."
Of the defenders that Douglas threw on the court to contend with Hogan, he said that Skylar Archie, a 4-6 sophomore, proved the most to him.
"When Skylar (Archie) got in the ballgame, within 30 seconds she took the ball right at her and picked up a foul. She didn't let (Katie) Hogan intimidate her."
The two teams were knotted at 16 apiece after the first quarter, but a big second quarter by Scott City and even bigger third quarter forced the East Prairie team to force shots that Douglas said they don't normally take. The Lady Eagles closed the gap a little bit in the second half, but Stephanie Essner scored 12 of her 17 points in the remaining 16 minutes to aid Scott City's victory.
Essner led the way for the Lady Rams, with Hogan and Holli Shemonia each scoring 13 points behind her in the third place win.
"One thing we're learning to do is to play with a lead," said Scott City head coach Kerry Thompson. "We had a tough game with Kelly the other night. We gave a great effort against Kelly, they're a rival of ours, and I was worried how we would respond coming out the next game. We got better at rebounding (in this game.)"
"My hat's off to East Prairie," he added. "They're good and they shoot well. They shoot a lot better than I prepared for."
East Prairie was led by Jennifer Nicholson with 12 points while Whitley Rundles scored 10. Brittany Trusty scored six on two 3-pointers in the loss.
The two teams will play again before the season comes to a close, but next on the schedule for East Prairie (1-4) is a road test against Kelly on Monday night at 6 p.m.
In the consolation championship, the Chaffee Lady Devils recorded their second consecutive victory as they defeated the Oran Lady Eagles 60-49 in the first game of the afternoon. After the first quarter it appeared that the game would go down to the wire as Chaffee led by just four, 15-11, but Oran head coach Adam Friga said his squad just wasn't ready to compete Saturday afternoon as they were outscored 44-38 in the final three quarters.
"We're just not playing very well right now," Friga said following the game. "We've got to do a much better job of concentrating and taking care of the basketball and getting to loose balls. We've got to fix that in practice."
Cheyenne King scored 20 points for Oran in the sixth-place finish, while Kirstie Mangels was next in line with 11. Mangels also hit a 3-pointer.
As for the host team that is picking up momentum, Chaffee head coach Courtney Urhahn said her team did 'very good' in the consolation game.
"Our girls deserved to win that," said Urhahn. "It's a big accomplishment and it's going to boost our self-esteem."
The Lady Devils (2-3) will look to continue their momentum in Greenville on Monday evening. They will look for Amber Kirk to keep a hot hand as she finished with 24 points, including four 3-pointers, on Saturday. Anna Ayers finished with 15 points and Taylor Kirchdoerfer had nine.
Friga said that his squad will get back to their winning ways before long.
"We've got to keep a good attitude right now and battle through a tough point early in the season," said Friga.