Springfield, Mo. (OzarksSportsZone.com) -- The Hillcrest Hornets needed just a handful of minutes to take control for good against the home-standing Central Bulldogs on Tuesday night.
With an overwhelming full-court press, Hillcrest built an early double-digit lead and cruised to a 77-50 victory. Hillcrest, which won at Republic last week, led by 17 points after the first quarter and 41-19 at halftime.
“We rotated well on our press and I think even in our half-court defense we created some turnovers,” said Hillcrest coach Jeni Hopkins. “Our defensive intensity really carried us through the first half.”
Hillcrest built an early 8-1 lead off consecutive steals turned into layups by junior Kelsie Cleeton, forcing Central to call a timeout.
The Hornets’ lead swelled to 16-3 after Cleeton got a steal and layup for the third time in the first quarter. She finished with a game-high 28 points.
“Using those anticipation skills and trying to be active in the passing lanes, we did a good job executing that,” Hopkins said. “And then, doing something with it. You can get the steal, but then doing converting that into points is the next step.”
Hillcrest led by double digits the rest of the way. In the second quarter, SBU signee Brittany Fisher had five quick points (via a 3-pointer and fastbreak layup) that made it 36-13 and led to another Central timeout.
The Hornets had three players score 15 or more. Kelbi Painter had 19 points and Fisher scored 15.
Senior Savannah Rush led Central with 22 points. The Bulldogs play at Willard on Thursday night.
Hillcrest will play this Saturday against Prairie Grove (Ark.) in the Winter Weather Shoot-Out at Branson High School. The event is an attempt to makeup the Battle at the Border that was postponed from earlier this month.
Central and Hillcrest will both participate in the Pink and White Lady Classic Dec. 27-31 at Drury.
Hillcrest 77, Central 50
Hillcrest 24 17 22 14 --- 77
Central 7 12 16 15 --- 50
Winter Weather Shoot-Out Schedule (Girls)
Camdenton vs. Republic, 5 p.m.
Bolivar vs. Ft. Smith Northside, Ark. 6:30 p.m.
Branson vs. Poplar Bluff, 8 p.m.
Poplar Bluff vs. Greenwood, Ark. Noon
Ft. Smith Northside vs. Camdenton, 1:30 p.m.
Harrison, Ark. vs. Bolivar, 3 p.m.
Hillcrest vs. Prairie Grove, Ark. 5 p.m.
Branson vs. Rogers, Ark. 6:30 p.m.
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