Springfield, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) -- One night after digging an early hole, the Crane Lady Pirates made sure they didn’t need their shovels on Friday night. Crane jumped out to a 14-3 lead over Nixa and never looked back in a 65-43 rout of the Lady Eagles.
Nixa’s Toshua Leavitt led all scorers with 22 points, while Crane’s Riley Israel had a team-high 20 for the Lady Pirates.
With the win, Crane advances to the championship of the Stephanie Phillips Classic saturday evening against Olathe East at 5 p.m. at Kickapoo High School. Nixa will meet Kickapoo in the third-place game at 3:30 p.m.
On Thursday night, the Lady Pirates were slow out of the gates and trailed Parkview 19-6. On Friday, it was a different story.
“We talked about last night falling behind Parkview,” said Crane head coach Jeremy Mullins. “I told the girls that with Nixa being the team they are, we cannot afford to get down to them in the first quarter. They are such a quality team that we cannot afford to. We stressed jumping on them early and getting a lead.”
The emphasis apparently worked.
“I think our fast start set the pace of the game,” said senior Riley Israel, who scored seven of her 20 points in the first-half. “It gave us a good confidence boost. We didn’t get down on ourselves like we did last night. It started our run.”
She’s right. Although Nixa battled its way back into the game and trailed by only three (29-26) at half, Crane started the third quarter the same way they started the first.
Only this time, the Lady Pirates flurry of points in the third was led by Riley Israel. The senior knocked in the first three field goals of the third, individually outscoring Nixa’s team 7-2 in the stretch.
“I’m trying to take a leadership role after we lost a big leader from last season,” said Israel. “I think tonight, I formed into that role better. I wasn’t nervous. I just went out and did it.”
Crane outscored Nixa 15-5 in the third period, taking a 44-31 lead into the fourth. From there, the Lady Pirates never looked back. The lead reached as many as 22 points with two minutes and change left, and 22 points it remained at the final buzzer.
“We went into this game knowing we had to work really hard,” said Israel. “Nixa’s a bigger school, and we knew they were looking to beat us. We were determined to beat a bigger school.”
“They wanted it, but we wanted it more.”
Nixa 12 14 5 12 ---- 43
Crane 19 10 15 21 ---- 65
Nixa: Toshua Leavitt 22, Angie Allen 10, Shelby Ewing 3, Madison Wells 2, Alex Sorenson 4, Bailey Pratt 2
Crane: Allie Hagler 2, Lexie Vaught 11, Riley Israel 20, Emma Lander 6, Jalee Johnson 7, Addie Reel 2, Justeen Mahan 7, Madison Fulp 2, Shelby Roder 2, Kylie Vaught 6
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