In a Big 8 Conference battle, the Mt. Vernon Lady Mt’Neers ended a four game losing streak by defeating the Cassville Lady Wildcats, 71-52, on Thursday night. Mt. Vernon jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter and led 14-11. Encouraged by their home crowd, the Lady Mt’Neers fed off their fans’ enthusiasm and extended their lead at the half to 32-24. Mt. Vernon had not played a home game since early December and desperately needed both their fan support and the hard-fought victory.
Down eight at the half, Cassville’s coach Chris Shore told his team that they were still in it.
“We said at half time we needed to win the third quarter, and we did,” said Shore. “We got it under double digits. It was one of those deals where we needed some things to go our way, but they hit a big shot, we turned it over, and then it kind of got away from us. I thought we did a good job of battling.”
After trailing by as much as 12 in the second half, Cassville battled back to cut the deficit to just six, but Mt. Vernon’s freshman Cameron Call would drain a three to put her team up nine. Cassville never got any closer. Call scored six of her game high 22 in the third quarter.
“We all came into this game and we wanted a win,” said Call. “We’ve been on a four game losing streak and we were just fired up. We wanted to go in and play hard, especially at home. Our student section is the best out there; they always get us so pumped. It’s really great to have them.”
Cassville made their run at Mt. Vernon but the Lady Mt’Neers out-rebounded the Wildcats in the fourth quarter. Led by senior Karlie Meeks’ three offensive rebounds and put backs, the Mt’Neers would pull away from Cassville in the final frame.
“It’s not every game that I have the opportunity to get that many offensive rebounds,” said Meeks, “but tonight they were blocking other people out and not me. We’ve played a lot of close games recently. I’m glad to finally get the losing streak out of the way and get a win under our belt. Hopefully, we can keep winning. Our crowd was big tonight and our student section is always wonderful, cheering us on and always motivating.”
“It was a conference game in the Big 8 Conference, a tough game,” said Mt. Vernon coach Dusty Killingsworth. “They seem to always come down to the end. We talked about that in the locker room before the game. We’ve got to do what we do, and if we can do that, we’re going to be successful, no matter whether it’s a win or a loss.”
“It was a very physical game tonight,” said Shore. “They play that style, and we’ve got to learn how to handle it. This was the most physical team that we’ve played up to this point. Their overall size, I mean, we’ve got one big girl, but not four like they do. I thought our kids battled, though. Mt. Vernon had a great crowd here tonight but we had talked before the game and told them to expect a loud crowd. I thought we handled it well.”
Mt. Vernon had been struggling to win close games but finally put together four quarters and coach Killingsworth was pleased.
“I’m very excited about the way we finished tonight,” said Killingsworth. “We finished in a lot of different aspects and that’s been kind of the battle cry for us. When Cassville cut our lead to six, I just told them, we’ve been in this situation before. Our history this year has kind of prepared us for this. We were able to push through and execute like we hadn’t done earlier in the year. We’ve been in a few tight ballgames in our previous four and we found a way to lose those games. Tonight, we put all of that history, that going through the fire, to use and we were able to do what we wanted to do.”
Cassville 11 13 17 11 -52
Mt. Vernon 14 18 17 22 -71
Cassville—Devyn Callahan-18, Madilynn Stokes-9, Ashlynn Howe-8, Hallie Long-8, Kandace Wallace-3, Lindsey Halterman-2, Macey Parsons-2, Audra Brooks-2
Mt. Vernon—Cameron Call-22, Karlie Meeks-17, Tawnie Wilson-10, Camryn Eldridge-7, Aubri Veith-4, Caitlin Hicks-4, Maddi Brown-3, Ashlyn McCanless-3, Mikala Veith-1