The Ozark Lady Tigers (15-6; 3-0 COC) defeated the Branson Lady Pirates (14-8; 1-2 COC), 52-39, in a COC Large clash on Monday night. Neither team could get on track offensively as both teams would struggle to shoot and take care of the ball. The score was tied 14-14 at the end of the first quarter, with both teams having difficulty finding their groove.
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A key moment in the game came at the end of the second quarter when Ozark senior Bridget Justis hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to give her team the four point lead (27-23) and the momentum going into the second-half.
“I can’t tell you how many times that kids have hit shots at the end of halves or quarters on us”, said Branson coach Kip Bough. “It’s happened so much to us this year that it’s not really a momentum changer but if you look at it, we would be down one instead of four.”
The second half began with Ozark hitting its first two shots to go up by eight points, 31-23, but Branson would respond with two buckets of its own. The Lady Pirates would never get closer than four points throughout the third quarter as the teams would exchange buckets. Ozark’s defense would not give up the easy layups they gave in the first-half and their press started to tire Branson.
The fourth quarter would see Ozark holding Branson to just seven points. The Lady Pirates’ shooting went ice cold when they would go five minutes without scoring a bucket and only making two free throws in that time.
“Their constant pressure wore us down a little bit. Defensively we played really hard tonight, and that took a lot out of us. When you spend as much time on defense, your legs obviously get a little bit tired” said Bough. “I guess you could say that’s why our shots were falling short in the fourth quarter.”
Ozark would go on an 11-5 run to finish out the game, led by senior Haylee Beard’s 13 points.
“Last year when we played Branson, we beat them by one with two free throws the last ten seconds of the ballgame” said Ozark Head Coach Yancey Little. “We were able to do better tonight. Branson’s a good ball club.”
Eight different scorers would lead a well-rounded scoring effort for Ozark tonight.
“Everybody knows about (Hannah) Cook and (Haylee) Beard,” said Little. “(Jackie) Fugate was able to get some touches in tonight and she made some key baskets for us, especially in that third quarter stretch. (Brie) Tauai, who has been starting for us lately, was able to put the ball in the hole. She gives us another scoring option.”
“We were pretty lethargic the first-half,” said Little. “We missed some easy baskets early on, missed some free throws and gave up some easy buckets. We never did get into the flow. Luckily, in the second half we started hitting a couple shots. When we do that, we’re pretty decent, but if not, we’ve got to grind it out.”
“We have got to learn to finish games and take better care of the ball” said Bough. “We’re going to have to get better at that if we’re going to make a run at the end, which I think we can do.”
Branson 14 9 9 7 -39
Ozark 14 13 12 13 -52
Branson—Jessie Barton-13, Moriah Dapprich-11, Hadley Blake-8, Ashley Forrest-3, Sydney Shepherd-2, Marissa Turpen-2
Ozark—Haylee Beard-13, Hannah Cook-12, Jackie Fugate-9, Bridget Justis-7, Brie Tauai-6, Courtney Clancy-2, Evan Rohde-2, Brianna Justis-1