By Tyler Thompson (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
ROGERSVILLE — Monday’s Big 8 East conference tilt between Logan-Rogersville and Mt. Vernon at Rogersville was reminiscent of a prize fight.
Both teams methodically went toe-to-toe, fighting for offensive spacing, passing lanes, and clawing out added possessions throughout a physical first half of play.
But, in the end, a steal by Rogersville senior guard Jordyn Gault down the stretch — combined with her two points from charity stripe, and Maci McHenry’s game-clinching shot with :35 seconds remaining in regulation proved just enough to secure the 35-34 win.
The Lady ‘Cats were down 18-14 at halftime, but going to a 2-3 zone defense and knocking down 13 third-quarter points created the pivotal separation.
“The first half, they didn’t let us run anything. They were so physical with us,” Rogersville head coach Denny McHenry said. “[They] wouldn’t let us set screens.”
But all that changed after intermission, as Shelby Ince ripped off four quick points, followed by Taylor Overstreet’s 3-pointer.
McHenry’s halftime message to his team was short and simple.
“At halftime, I really didn’t have anything to tell them. Except that we let their [Lady Mountaineers] guards dictate what was going on,” McHenry said. “Taking care of the basketball and getting more opportunities … being as physical as they are and trying to continue to play defense like we did in the first half, I thought we played good defense in the first half. When you give up 18 points to them, they are a really good offensive team.”
The back-and-forth counters and adjustments continued throughout the third quarter, and Rogersville’s Sydney Dunavent’s old-fashioned three-point play gave her ‘Cats the 27-26 lead to close out the period.
Turnovers proved to be costly throughout for both teams, though, as they combined for 16 first-half turnovers — 11 of which were authored by McHenry’s Wildcats.
Added McHenry: “You can’t win games win you turn it over 50 percent of the time. We turned it over 11 times in 21 possessions.”
The Lady Mountaineers — leading 28-27 early in the fourth quarter — ratcheted up the intensity on the defensive side.
A half-court press was utilized, but the Wildcats countered as Overstreet knocked down a pair from the charity stripe, and Sophia Nixon knocked down the 10-footer to balance out the attack.
Mt. Vernon coach Grant Berendt wasn’t surprised with the physical, low-scoring game after the two met in the Pink & White tournament where the Lady Mountaineers came out on top.
“Coach McHenry and I are buddies. He does a great job, and his kids play really, really hard,” Berendt said. “We know from our last game, at the Pink and White [Tournament], that they wanted to keep it a low possession game. We knew that each possession was going to be so important. We were a point shy of making it happen.”
The Mountaineers — much like the Wildcats’ third-quarter performance — kept hacking away.
Ellie Johnston tied the game up 31 just moments before Gault’s steal at midcourt and subsequent pair from the free-throw line.
“The part where I didn’t feel we matched their intensity was on the offensive glass,” Berendt said. “They got second and third [opportunities], and, ultimately, that is what beat us tonight.”
After Caitlin Hicks connected for the 3-pointer to gave her Mountaineers the 34-33 lead — sending the team bench into a frenzy, Rogersville countered one last time.
With 40 seconds remaining, Maci McHenry knocked down the shot to seal the win for her Wildcats.
Logan-Rogersville: Sydney Dunavant-10 (team high); Maci McHenry-6; Jordyn Gault-6; Taylor Overstreet-7; Shelby Ince-4; Sophia Nixon-2.
MV: Caitlin Hicks-15 (led team); Cameron Call-9; Lacy Stokes-8; Ellie Johnston-1.