Two conference losses in a week’s time was a heavy blow for the state-ranked Fordland Eagles, who followed a loss at Mansfield on Monday night with a 10-point defeat at the hands of the Norwood Lady Pirates Thursday evening.
Fordland led 12-8 at the end of the first quarter in the Norwood contest, but struggled against the Lady Pirates’ strong inside game, said longtime head coach Kevin McDaris.
“We didn’t rebound well, and we knew going into the game that’s what we needed to do, because they have a lot more size than us,” he said.
Norwood had taken a two-point lead by the end of the second quarter.
“We did pretty well rebounding inside and taking it inside,” said Lady Pirates’ helmsman Shannon Crain. “We’re a lot bigger (than Fordland) and we took advantage of that.”
However, Crain said his squad struggled with mental toughness and free throw shooting in the contest, which, despite being a two-point game for the majority of the four quarters, ended with a 49-39 victory for the Lady Pirates.
“We left 16 points on the free throw line. If we had hit those, we could have been another 10 points up,” Crain said. “Additionally, we were playing a state-ranked team and some of my younger players froze up on me.”
McDaris said his team played competitively on the defensive end, despite their smaller stature.
“Our defense was pretty good. We got them to take the shots we wanted them to in the second half, but we didn’t do a good enough job getting the rebounds.”
He added that one aspect of the game strategy didn’t pan out for his team, which was ranked 8th in Class 2 in the latest Missouri Basketball Coaches Association polls.
“We tried to use our quickness to get up and down the floor, but they did a good job of slowing us down and not letting us run it as much,” he said.
A pair of juniors, Jenna Ogletree, a 5’9” forward, and Emily Chadwell, a 5’4” guard, led the Lady Pirates’ scoring attack with 17 points each. Center Cherokee McGraw, a 5’10” senior, netted 10 points, while classmate Emma McIntosh scored 5 points.
Ali Sparks, a 5’7” senior forward, led the Lady Eagles in scoring with 13 points. Classmate Amanda Mitchell, also a 5’7” forward, contributed 8 points. Freshman Emily Whiteford netted 6 points, while sophomore forward Danielle Bailey scored 5 points. Sophie Sparks, a 5’4” freshman point guard, was held to three points, all from the free-throw line. Senior Tabitha Buttram and sophomore Brooke Hyder each netted 2 points.
Norwood will travel to neighboring Mansfield next Monday night for another Summit Conference matchup, while Fordland will play the Marshfield Lady Jays in the first round of the Rogersville Lady Wildcat Invitational Tournament on that same night.