By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
It didn’t start out pretty Friday night, but the Strafford Lady Indians extended their winning streak to 94 games with a 68-43 victory over the Kickapoo Lady Chiefs in a Pink Division semifinal of the Pink & White Lady Classic at the O’Reilly Family Event Center.
“Kickapoo is so athletic and they’re so big and they’re so long,” Strafford coach Steve Frank said. “Of course, when people play you zone, a lot of times you’ve got to kind of figure it out and so it makes for ugly games.
“Any time somebody plays you zone, it’s usually a grind, ugly style game. So, when we got out in transition after a little bit there, it sped the game up a bit and that kind of helped kind of set the tone. I think it was just a matter of feeling things through those first few possessions. Once we kind of figured where the holes were, it was a little easier to attack.”
It wasn’t until the 5:26 mark that either team scored. Kayley Frank found sister Hayley for a jumper at the elbow to get the scoring started. Kickapoo’s Indya Green answered with a putback to tie it at 2 before Strafford used a 9-2 run to open up the game in the first quarter and take an 18-9 lead.
Hayley Frank picked up two fouls in the first quarter, which limited the Mizzou signee’s time on the floor.
“Unfortunately, she’s had to play in that situation a lot this year,” coach Frank said. “We tried to sub her in and out a little bit. She’s a smart player and I feel comfortable playing her with fouls and we kept her in there as much as we could.”
Sophomore Rachel Senn opened the second quarter with a putback (18-11) for Kickapoo, but a 6-0 run by Strafford expanded its lead to 13 points (24-11).
The Lady Chiefs kept Strafford within striking distance on the strength of Green’s 10 first-half points and 10 rebounds. Back-to-back baskets by Chloe Merced and Senn to open the third quarter pulled Kickapoo within nine points (36-27), but an 11-0 run by Strafford quickly put the game out of reach.
“I felt like we got balance there out of several kids in that little stretch run; it wasn’t just one person,” coach Frank said. “That’s what our team is built on is having everybody be part of it. When we do that, we’re pretty good.”
Hayley Frank scored a game-high 24 points, pulled down 15 rebounds and dished out 9 assists. She was joined by Kayley (a C of O signee), who added 14 points, with Maddison Chittenden scoring 12 for Strafford.
Green paced the Lady Chiefs with 14 points.
The Lady Indians, who have won two straight Pink Division titles, will go for a third when they take on playoff rival Mount Vernon, a 66-48 winner over Republic, at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“No one probably wants to beat us more than Mount Vernon, just the rivalry we’ve had the last few years,” Hayley Frank said. “They’re a great team and so it’s just going to be really important that we’re mentally focused and we come in ready to play; just coming in mentally ready is the biggest thing.”
PINK & WHITE TOURNAMENT
PINK DIVISION SEMIFINAL
STRAFFORD 68, KICKAPOO 43
KICKAPOO – Rachel Senn 6, Chloe Merced 7, Macie Conway 3, Indya Green 14, Natasha Whittet 2, Madie Barrett 5, Leah Fredrick 6.
STRAFFORD – Kyndall Compton 3, Kayley Frank 14, Logan Jones 7, Hayley Frank 24, Maddison Chittenden 12, Emma Compton 4, Taylor Dorman 4.