Lady Eagles rally late to beat Lady Hornets

Springfield, Mo. (For  -- A tremendous offensive push in the fourth quarter won it for the Fair Grove Lady Eagles as they faced off against the Hornets at Hillcrest on Monday night.

Hillcrest controlled the lead for the majority of the game, but gave it away in the last six minutes by turning the ball over to Taylor Davis on three bad passes.

“I’ve always kind of joked with Davis, she prefers to play offense and I always say, hey, who ever thought I’d say you played great defense… but she’s become a big defensive stopper for us” said Fair Grove head coach Jenny Talbert.

The two teams matched up earlier in the season at the Pink and White Tournament where Fair Grove managed to pull out another close victory. 

“I told the girls to be ready for [Hillcrest’s] best effort.  We knew that if we could keep Cleeton and Fisher in check, we could get the job done,” said Talbert.

Despite the warning, Cleeton and Fisher were major players in tonight’s game, not only as the leading scorers, but also as important play makers. 
Fisher was an organizing force for the Hornets, especially in the first quarter when she connected on several passes to Kelbi Painter to establish an early lead.

Meanwhile, Cleeton effectively distributed the ball around the key. Her major scoring moment came in the third quarter when she lit up the scoreboard with two consecutive three-pointers.

Though Fair Grove briefly held a slight advantage at the half, Hillcrest seemed to gain control of the game in the third and had established an eight point lead by the end of the quarter. That all changed in the fourth quarter.

“I told them to play the first two minutes and then the next two minutes because you’re not going to get all the points on one possession,” said Talbert.

Sure enough, the Eagles started to creep up on the Hornet’s lead early in the fourth with Morgan Kensinger and DeAmbra Pilkinton picking up a few field goals each. Pilkinton also sunk five points in free throws during the fourth quarter.

The game changer, though, came in the form of Davis intercepting three Hillcrest passes and converting the turnovers into six points worth of layups: two scored by her, and the third of of an assist to Pilkinton.

“[We had] a good game plan, and I felt like we executed it well for three quarters, but  the fourth quarter is where we did not execute our game plan,” said Hillcrest head coach Jeni Hopkins. “I don’t feel like we played a bad game. I feel like we played solid until that last six minutes, and the credit really goes to them and not against us, but just for them.”

Fair Grove stands at 14-5 for the season and plays at Lebanon next on Jan. 28 at 4:30.  Hillcrest is at 8-8 and will be at Home against Rolla on Jan. 24 at 5:30.  

Fair Grove 66, Hillcrest 58

Fair Grove 11-16-11-28—66
Hillcrest    17-8-21-12—58

Fair Grove—Morgan Kensinger 18, DeAmbra Pilkinton 17, Taylor Davis 12, Shelby Morrow 8, Bailey Weaver 6, Kalie Wood 4, Shania Hawley 1.
Hillcrest—Kelsie Cleeton 17, Brittany Fisher 17, Kelbi Painter 16, Kristen Todd 4, Kaycee Gerald 3, Alexis Cheek 1.

Photo Galleries

Pictures: Top 50 Volleyball Jamboree Photos

Catch the best photos from the area's volleyball jamboree

Pictures: Sparta Volleyball Jamboree

Sparta hosted Billings, Buffalo, and Forsyth on Tuesday night.

Pictures: Southwest Volleyball Jamboree

Southwest hosted Cassville, Hurley and Purdy in a volleyball jamboree on Tuesday.
O-Zone Opinion
Mohawk Chronicles: COC Small football conference preview
2014 will be a year of change in the COC-Small. Guys like Rafe Peavey, Blayne Armstrong, and Easton Flaugh are all off to start their D-1 careers. Meanwhile, names like Hancock, Gosch, and Hamon enter Year One in the conference. There will be new faces...
Read More
14 for '14: Softball pitchers and catchers to watch
In high school softball, the best players can often be found in the circle or behind the plate. Here are 14 of the area's top returning pitchers and catchers. Players are listed alphabetically. Note: This list includes only players in MSHSAA's fall...
Read More
Mohawk Chronicles: Ozark football conference preview
It's a new year, but the same story in the OC. Balance. It seems like over the last few years you could flip a coin as to who would take the top spot. Kickapoo ran through the league unblemished last year, while Hillcrest and Lebanon split the title...
Read More
Most Viewed