It’s nothing any team wants to endure, but the Ash Grove Lady Pirates have learned how to overcome injuries and still win.
With two injured starters on the bench and another going down late in the contest, Ash Grove prevailed 52-38 over Mt. Vernon on Monday night in a contest between that had district implications.
“We certainly don’t need more injuries,” said Ash Grove coach Brent Milleson. “At the same time, the kids have responded well. It has forced kids to step up into different roles.
“We’ve just kind of found a way.”
Ash Grove, minus starters Lakin Simmerman and Jamie Mauss, improved to 16-5. The Lady Pirates also had Abby Arico leave the game midway through the fourth quarter.
Mauss had started every game for Ash Grove. Simmerman, described by Milleson as the team’s “best player,” has played in only six games this season and hasn’t seen the court since late December due to stress fractures in her foot.
Milleson thinks Simmerman still has a chance to return in time for districts.
“We’re going to have a lot of kids in the Ash Grove doctor’s office the next few days,” said Milleson, adding he wasn’t sure about the extent of Mauss’ and Arico’s injuries.
With its starting lineup on the court for most of the game, Ash Grove found success with a trapping three-quarters-court press.
The Lady Pirates turned a steal into an Erin Weinreis layup to go up 38-25 late in the third quarter.
“They’re a lot quicker than us right now,” Mt. Vernon coach Jamie LaSalle said about Ash Grove. “They can kind of change up their defense and do a lot of different things. It affected us. We had a few turnovers. When you’re not hitting shots and then you have a few more turnovers than you should, you’re hurting yourself.”
Ash Grove junior Halee Cashio scored a game-high 18. Sophomore Mackenzie Farmer led Mt. Vernon with 14 points. No other Lady Mountaineer scored more than six.
“We’re not making shots,” LaSalle said. “We haven’t made shots in over a week. When we’re not making shots, we’re not going to be very good because we rely a lot on 3 pointers. And we’re not hitting them.”
Farmer’s basket got Mt. Vernon (12-8) within 42-35 with just over four minutes remaining. But the Lady Mountaineers did not make a field goal the rest of the way.
“Missing 3s is one thing, but we missed a lot of (shots) around the rim as well,” LaSalle said. “Against good teams, that’s going to bury you. As good of defense as you can play, if you’re not hitting shots then it’s going to be very difficult.”
With the victory, Ash Grove now owns victories over Class 3, District 12 foes Mt. Vernon and Southwest (Washburn). The Lady Pirates would figure to be on their way to the district’s No. 1 seed.
Mt. Vernon returns home to face Monett on Thursday. Ash Grove will host Pleasant Hope.
Milleson likened Ash Grove’s injury situation to that of an NFL team.
“(Injuries) provide opportunity for some that haven’t played,” he said. “Look at Colin Kaepernick with the 49ers. If it wasn’t for a quirk of fate and Alex Smith goes down, we never know about Kaepernick and maybe he never gets that opportunity.”
Ash Grove 52, Mt. Vernon 38
Mt. Vernon 10 8 9 11 --- 38
Ash Grove 9 14 15 14 --- 52
Mt. Vernon – Mackenzie Farmer 14, Blair Tettenhorst 6, Audrey LaSalle 6, Laynie Dake 4, Tamiaya Henderson 4, Megan Pope 3, Karlie Meeks 1
Ash Grove – Halee Cashio 18, Abby Arico 11, Madi Johnson 10, Katie Skelton 6, Erin Weinreis 5, Nikki Ogle 2