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After being tied at 3-3 just over a minute into the opening quarter, Kensinger and her teammates established their dominance on both ends of the court. Fair Grove went on a 17-0 run to counter the early game tie. Leading 20-3 after the first quarter, Head Coach Jenny Talbert was tremendously pleased with her team’s effort in the opening minutes.
“We talked about establishing our post inside because we knew we had a height advantage and Morgan (Kensinger) did great on offense and defense,” said Talbert. “There aren’t very many teams in the state of Missouri that have a shot blocker like her.”
Fair Grove, though its offense was on a hot streak in the opening half, was ultimately winning the game because of its defense. Morrisville is an excellent outside shooting team; however the Lady Eagles were able to run the Lady Panthers’ shooters off of the three-point line and into the lane where Kensinger awaited. Fair Grove’s defense was the key as to why they held a 31-12 halftime lead.
“We are trying to become known for our defense because our offense is so much better when our defense is playing well,” said Talbert.
Junior forward Shelby Morrow combined with Kensinger for 18 points in the first half, most of which came from their scoring off of offensive rebounds and put backs over the smaller Morrisville defenders.
At the beginning of the third quarter, Morrisville played with a chip on its shoulder, as if they had something to prove. However, when head coach David Francka was ejected with 4:11 remaining in the period after picking up his second technical foul, which proceeded the first one by only seconds, it appeared as if any hope Morrisville had would be vanquished.
Assistant coach Jon Sanders stepped in for Francka and brought a new emotion to the game. Morrisville’s defense began stepping up in ways that they were not in the first-half. As a result, turnovers became an unpleasant frequency for Fair Grove.
“I told the girls that technicals always fires up a team and that they would come out playing hard to defend their coach,” said Talbert. “Plus we had a few bad possessions but for the most part we were able to keep our heads.”
Limiting Kensinger offensively and defensively was a large factor in Morrisville’s third quarter success. In the closing period though, she regained her momentum and took control of the game. Kensinger had nine points in the fourth quarter, and finished with a game-high 21 points.
Fair Grove was able to knock down its free throws in the fourth quarter, an aspect of the game they had struggled with in the first-half. Eventually, Fair Grove clinched the victory over Morrisville, 65-37.
Fair Grove Scoring: Morgan Kensinger 21, Shelby Morrow 11, DeAmbra Pilkinton 11, Taylor Davis 8, Shania Hawley 5, Kinzie Williams 4, Bailey Weaver 2
Morrisville Scoring: Taylor Wilkins 9, Tabitha Francka 7, Sapphire Looney 7, Meleah Francka 6, Kylie Painter 3, Taylor Carver 2, Kaitlyn Painter 2, Shania Francka 1