Strafford beats Mt. Vernon for third consecutive Pink & White title

By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

Strafford jumping out to a 12-2 lead is nothing new, but the way the Lady Indians did it against Mt. Vernon represented a cornerstone principle for one of the state’s premier teams.

Unselfish play that leads to a pick-your-poison scoring attack.

All five Strafford starters scored within the first three minutes of Saturday afternoon’s Pink and White Lady Classic championship game.

When it was over, Strafford had prevailed 71-42 for its 95th straight victory and a Pink Division title. All five starters scored eight or more.

Just another day at the office for the three-time defending Class 3 state champions, who improved to 13-0 overall.

“The scoring balance is awesome,” said Strafford senior Kyndall Compton. “If (teams) take away one thing, we can give you another. It’s good to have that. Each player can have their own thing where they step up and contribute to the team.”

Compton, like the rest of her teammates, showed she can potentially contribute in ways that don’t show up on the stat sheet.

When the ball was wedged between the rim and backboard after a missed shot in the second quarter, Compton teased about leaping up to retrieve it.

“I thought about it,” Compton said. “I was like, ‘I’m on from the 3, maybe I can have those hops today.’ But then I thought, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t embarrass myself.’”

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF THE GAME

Strafford senior and Mizzou commit Hayley Frank finished with a triple-double: 23 points, 21 rebounds and 11 assists. Teammates Kayley Frank and Maddie Chittenden scored 14 and 13, respectively.

Compton added three back-breaking 3-pointers to finish with nine points. She made all three of her 3-point attempts. The fifth Strafford starter, Logan Jones, scored eight.

Compton added three back-breaking 3-pointers to finish with nine points. She made all three of her 3-point attempts. The fifth Strafford starter, Logan Jones, scored eight.

“(Scoring balance) is what we’re built on,” said Strafford coach Steve Frank. “That’s what they kids understand and that’s all we talk about. It doesn’t matter who does it. All that matters is that we get the job done.”

Mt. Vernon was within nine late in the first half, but Chittenden’s 3-pointer in the final seconds put Strafford ahead 40-28 at halftime.

Mt. Vernon shot 10-for-18 from the field in the first, including 3-for-10 from 3-point range.

Strafford scored seven straight to begin the second half, a run that ultimately put the game away. Lacy Stokes scored 18 to lead Mt. Vernon.

“You’re execution and attention to detail has to be almost perfect to be in the game (against Strafford),” said Mountaineers coach Grant Berendt. “I felt like we were doing things that we wanted to do and we were making them take some shots that we wanted. They did a very good job on executing and making some shots.”

It’s the third consecutive Pink and White championship for Strafford. Three years ago, Strafford fell to eventual Class 5 state champion Kickapoo in the tournament’s semifinal round.

The Lady Indians have only lost one game since then – 55-53 to Marshfield on January 21, 2016.

“To come to this tournament, the type of tournament it is and the type of teams that are in it, it’s an honor (to win it),” Steve Frank said. “To be able to do it three times in a row, we’d never imagine that three years ago.”

Added Compton: “The feeling never gets old, any year. This year, we were kind of more expected to do the same thing, which applies more pressure on us. But we always come in and adjust to that and stay calm with our heads on. It feels just as good.”

Strafford wasn’t seeded in the same bracket as nationally ranked Forth Smith (Ark.) Northside, which defeated Willard 70-44 to win the White Division title.

“I honestly thought that would be the matchup before they revealed the seeds,” Steve Frank said. “I figured they’d probably have us and Northside playing each other. I was really surprised when the seeds came out and we weren’t on the same side of the bracket.

“They’re a great team.”

Steve Frank said Strafford had a game scheduled with Class 4 power Incarnate Word Academy that fell through. Incarnate Word Academy has won five state titles dating back to the 2012-13 season.

Strafford will have upcoming games against out-of-area teams like Helias Catholic (January 3), Lincoln Prep (January 12) and Cardinal Ritter (January 21).

“It doesn’t get any easier from here,” Steve Frank said. “So we’ll just keep working it one game at a time and never look beyond that one game.”

Mt. Vernon fell to 7-3 overall with the loss. Berendt said his team had a productive four days at the tournament.

“They’re very resilient,” Berendt said. “I got to see a lot of growth in this team. From the first day against Buffalo when we didn’t have a lot of energy coming out, but we won.

“(Friday), our execution against Republic was awesome. That (first) quarter was the best quarter we’ve had all year in terms of execution and getting the shots we wanted.”

Mt. Vernon returns to action January 3 at home versus Lamar.

Strafford 71, Mt. Vernon 42
Strafford 20 20 19
Mt. Vernon 12 16 8 6 — 42

Strafford – Hayley Frank 23, Kayley Frank 14, Maddie Chittenden 13, Kyndall Compton 9, Logan Jones 8, Taylor Dormann 2, Emma Compton 2
Mt. Vernon – Lacy Stokes 18, Cameron Call 6, Ashlyn McCanless 6, Caitlin Hicks 4, Ellie Johnston 4, Lyndsey Hood 2, Michaela McChesney 2