By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
In the waning minutes of the first half, Logan-Rogersville senior Taylor Overstreet scored to put the Wildcats ahead by nine points, their largest lead of the game.
Mt. Vernon coach Grant Berendt called a timeout. He wasn’t pleased, though his exact message has been lost to time.
“I don’t remember exactly,” he said. “I know we were not executing our game plan as we had talked about it.”
The Mountaineers battled back from the deficit to tie the game in the third and went on to win 37-31 in a Pink Division quarterfinal game at the Pink & White Lady Classic inside the O’Reilly Family Event Center.
Mt. Vernon, the third seed, will play seventh seed Republic at 4 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.
“We were not matching their toughness and physicalness in the game,” Berendt said. “And that was one of the things I know we talked about and that was a big part of our halftime talk, too. Coach (Denny) McHenry does a great job and his kids are ready to go and they’re blue collar and they guard really, really hard. We did not match that mentality in the first half at all.”
The Mountaineers opened the second half with four-straight stops and held the Wildcats scoreless for more than seven minutes in the third quarter. Logan-Rogersville scored just two points in the quarter on a basket by senior Maci McHenry that tied the game at 22 in the final minute.
McHenry put the Wildcats up 24-22 early in the fourth but Mt. Vernon tied it at 24 and at 26 before pulling ahead for good on a shot by senior Caitlin Hicks with 4:19 left in the game. She was fouled on the play but missed the free throw. She grabbed her own rebound and scored again to make it 30-26.
Logan-Rogersville junior Sophia Nixon kept her team within two points with 3:20 remaining, but Mt. Vernon sophomore Lacy Stokes came up with a steal that led to a Cameron Call field goal at the 2:34 mark to make it 32-28.
Sophomore Ellie Johnston made two free throws with 1:13 on the clock to make it a six-point game, and Stokes added two free throws with 23 seconds left to make it 36-30 after a Jordyn Gault basket for the Wildcats.
The teams traded free throws in the final 10 seconds.
Both coaches credited a change in Mt. Vernon’s defense for the Mountaineers’ success in the second half.
“We’re trying to play six kids; it takes its toll and they went to a zone in the second half and we couldn’t get Jordan (Gault) open to get good looks and when we did get her open she didn’t make shots,” McHenry said. “Just panic set in against a zone. We struggled with them changing from man to zone and even a little bit of their pressure out of their zone. I think more of it is probably between our ears just being tired
“We wanted to do it after half and have some more time to talk about it,” Berendt said. “It was just a different look, one we hadn’t shown a ton this year and I don’t know if we were saving it for the right time but we needed a change. Down seven at half and we needed something to spark us.”
Mt. Vernon was also clutch at the free throw line late, making seven of nine attempts in the fourth quarter.
“We came in this morning on a walk through and about the only thing we did was shoot some free throws and watch film on Rogersville,” Berendt said. “It was something we put a lot of emphasis on and we know if we had a lead late that we wanted to try to shorten the game and get to the line and make our free throws.”
The Mountaineers, 6-2, were led by senior Cameron Call’s 12 points. Hicks added nine.
Logan-Rogersville, 7-4, received 10 points from Gault, a senior. The sixth-seeded Wildcats will play second seed Ozark at 12:30 p.m. Friday in Weiser Gym.