By Angie Brushwood (For Ozarks SportsZone.com)
Willard, MO – The Willard Lady Tigers improved to 8-3 with tonight’s win over the Clever Lady Jays, 71-62. The Lady Tigers grabbed a 10-point lead in the first quarter, sinking five treys, 24-14.
But the Lady Jays stopped the Lady Tigers in the second, outscoring Willard 9-2 in the first four minutes. With her team trailing 31-23, Harper Little knocked in back-to-back buckets for Clever, converting one to a trey at the line, 31-28. Little stunned the Lady Tigers by dropping a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, tying the game 31-all.
Little led the Lady Jays with 24 points on the night.
Willard recovered in the second half. Head coach J.J. Adamson credits the Lady Tigers for regaining their focus after the break.
“Clever had a great second quarter. We felt like we became deficient in areas of not taking care of the basketball and defensive rebounding. It was a great job by our ladies of listening at halftime and coming out with renewed focus to get it turned around in the second half,” said Adamson.
Leading 54-47 late in the third, the Willard Tigers secured a more comfortable margin for the Lady Tigers in the final minute of the third quarter. Josie Sanders sank a bucket, and Megan Mahan swiped away the Lady Jays’ rebound. Mahan passed to Brooklyn Wade, whose shot was blocked but recovered by Mahan. Mahan’s shot attempt drew a foul, and she finished 2-for-2 at the line, ending the third at 58-47 for the Lady Tigers.
The Lady Jays went 7-for-9 at the line in the fourth, but that was not enough to stop the Lady Tigers, 71-62.
Josie Sanders led the Lady Tigers with 14 points.
Joran Stout-Mitchell was the go-to for the Lady Tigers in the post and on defense. Stout-Mitchell scored 10 points for Willard.
“(In the) second quarter I feel like we hesitated and didn’t do what we were supposed to do,” said Stout-Mitchell. “I feel like after we came back from half, we got down, we did what we needed to do. Our goal was to get the ball to the post, whether it’s me or Kaitlyn Burson, to get it in there, hammer it in there, because we have the height advantage. We felt like if we get it in there, we have the upper hand and just hammer it in the post as much as we could. Our guards did a very good job at that.”
Clever head coach Dan Jones credits the Lady Tigers’ offense for coming back in the third.
“Willard came out hot in the first quarter, and they were getting a lot of really good looks. We adjusted on the bench and got some great stops there in the second quarter,” said Jones. “The third quarter, I really felt like we were going to get it going, but defensively we just didn’t get it done. Sixteen is a good quarter for us, but we can’t let a team score 27 points on us in a quarter. That hurt us really bad. We couldn’t overcome it at that point.”
Willard head coach J.J. Adamson called the game a great team win.
“Clever is a great team. I was proud of the way our young ladies moved the basketball and played for one another in that first quarter. We had open shots and were able to knock it down because of the unselfishness on the offensive end,” said Adamson.
Willard: Josie Sanders 14, Nona Adamson 11, Brooklyn Wade 12, Joran Stout-Mitchell 10, Megan Mahan 9, Hannah Bird 8, Lizzie Drennan 5, Kaitlyn Burson 2 – 71
Clever: Harper Little 24, Allie Clevenger 11, Abi Menzies 15, Tessa Newman 10, Madison Gladney 2 — 62
Willard 24 7 27 13 — 71
Clever 14 17 16 15 — 62