St. Louis, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) -- The Ozark Lady Tigers learned a valuable lesson on Saturday. It’s not how many turnovers you force that matters, it’s the points off of those turnovers that count.
Despite forcing 20 turnovers against Parkway South in the Prepcasts Elite Shootout at DeSmet High School, the Tigers couldn’t capitalize from the floor in a 59-49 loss.
“We missed a lot of shots, lay-ups and easy shots that we missed,” said Ozark coach Yancey Little. “You can’t do that against anybody.”
Ozark (8-4) entered the game ranked fifth in the state, third by O-Zone, and jumped out to a 5-2 lead. The Patriots (10-2) set the tone with an 11-0 run and sprinted to an 18-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Ozark came out flat with four turnovers in the opening period. The Tigers kept control of the ball for the rest of the game, finishing with only eight.
Ozark cut the lead to 28-27 on a steal and fast-break lay-up from Hannah Cook. It was one of five steals for Cook, who also scored five points. Her 3-pointer just before halftime sent the teams to the locker room knotted up at 30.
The Patriots took control midway through the third quarter. After a see-saw beginning to the half, Parkway South started to dominate inside with 6-foot-1 junior Dominique Broadus and 6-foot senior Becca Steins. Broadus, who height and girth caused problems for the Tigers, finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots.
“It was pretty tough,” said Ozark senior Jackie Fugate. “(Broadus) is definitely a lot stronger than me and she’s just big. It’s hard to work around that.”
Steins, a Truman State recruit, scored 16 points and had six rebounds, but the Patriots also got solid production from their guards. Senior Riley Reddin scored 10 points with five assists and two steals. But it was junior Brittany Thomas, whose speed gave the Tigers fits.
“Britt’s an athlete and she can get to the basket almost any time she wants,” said Parkway South coach Tom Williams of Thomas, who led all scorers with 18 points.
“Becca had to carry the load for us last year, but when you have multiple kids in double digits, it helps,” said Williams.
The Tigers also had multiple players in double digits, with Fugate, Brie Tuaui and Haylee Beard all with 10 points. Tuaui was named Ozark’s player of the game and Fugate had nine rebounds, four assists, three blocks and a pair of steals.
South was coming off a close win over Oakville the night before and Williams said he didn’t sleep well Friday night with the Tigers looming.
“For four quarters, that was probably the best game we’ve played,” said Williams. “It was a good effort by the girls.”
The Patriots held a 50-42 lead after the third quarter. The Tigers scored first in the fourth quarter, but South then went on an 8-0 run to build an insurmountable 14-point lead with three minutes remaining. Ozark switched to a full-court press defense and forced several turnovers in the final minutes, but the shooting struggles continued.
“We didn’t do much with those,” said Fugate. “That’s very crucial. It’s one thing to stop the ball, and using it and scoring, which is what we really needed to do. We didn’t get that done.”
Little said the Tigers will use Saturday’s lesson and their tough early-season schedule to prepare themselves for the long run.
“We’re a decent team, but we’re not a good team right now,” said Little. “We’ve got to do so much more. We don’t block out and the fundamentals we need to do to beat the good teams night in and night out. We’re close, but we’re not there.”
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