By Pat Dailey (For OzarkSportsZone.com)
CHADWICK — Stevi Jones hasn’t got to the 1,500-point milestone without not knowing how to still be effective on those rare nights when her shots aren’t falling.
Jones shook off sub-par game from the 3-point line to make 10-of-13 free throws and score 21 points in Chadwick’s 48-37 triumph over Bradleyville in the teams’ Mark Twain Conference Tournament championship clash Saturday.
Jones kept her composure after scoring only four points in the first quarter and missing repeated attempts beyond the arc. She didn’t hit a 3-pointer until the fourth quarter and finished with just one trey.
“I was going to keep shooting 3s and hopefully they would start falling. That’s what Coach tells me to do,” Jones said. “But he also tells me if it’s not there, that my free throws will make up for it.”
“She missed a lot of 3s early,” Lady Cardinals coach Scott Payne said. “I told her, ‘Those are good shots. But if you can pump-fake, drive to the rim and get a layup or draw some fouls, to try that.’ She continued to do that over the course of the game and it worked out well for us. We want her to be aggressive and go to the line.”
Smith, who scored her 1,500th career point earlier in the week, was confident she would be rewarded for her drives to the paint with a layup or by drawing a Bradleyville foul.
“They’re always aggressive when we play them,” Jones said. “If you drive inside, you’ve got to make sure to be strong with the ball and finish.”
Fouls on the Lady Eagles played a big part in the final outcome.
Bradleyville was handling Chadwick’s full-court pressure and held a 28-23 with 3:20 to play in the third quarter. That’s when point guard Tay Sims was whistled for her fourth foul and went to the bench.
What ensued was a 21-2 Lady Cardinals run that put them up 44-30 with 2:53 remaining in the game.
“We knew it was our time to build up a lead when she went out with her fourth foul,” Jones said.
“When (Sims) was forced to go to the bench, that was a huge advantage for us,” Payne said. “That was the time when our press started working. Our whole game plan is to use our speed and get up and pressure the ball. We talk to the girls that early in the game our press may not be effective, but in the second half we rely on our conditioning and speed to turn teams over. Bradleyville, it seemed, got tired in the second half tonight. They made some mistakes and we were able to covert off of their turnovers.”
Bradlevyille committed 15 of its 20 turnovers in the second half.
The final score was about the same as when the teams met at the Sparta Tournament early this month, when Chadwick won 48-33.
“But they weren’t the same,” Chadwick guard Abby Smith sad. “We kept a 10-point game throughout the entire game the first time we played then. Tonight, it was close.”
It’s a fulfilling championship for the Lady Cardinals.
“It means so much to us,” Jones said. “It’s been a long time coming for us. We’ve been so close in this tournament. We finally got it done.”
Chadwick 48, Bradleyville 37
Bradleyville 6 15 9 7 – 37
Chadwick 8 10 12 18 – 48
BRADLEYVILLE (37) — Sims 1, Hayes 1, Todd 15, McHaffie 2, Williams 18.
CHADWICK (48) — Smith 5, Nelson 1, Par. Gilbert 11, Jones 21, Pai. Gilbert 8, Grimes 2.