Sparta, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) -- The state-ranked Sparta Lady Trojans had a comfortable lead throughout most of the game and defeated the Spokane Lady Owls 62-41 on Thursday night.
The Lady Trojans’ full-court press caused Spokane to turn over the ball multiple times. Although Spokane had the height advantage, the Lady Trojans out-rebounded the Lady Owls on both the offensive and defensive ends.
At the end of the first quarter, the score was 22-9 in favor of Sparta, and the rout was on. The Lady Owls tried to claw their way back in the game, reducing Sparta’s lead to 28-18, but Sparta would go on an 11-3 run to end the half, making the score at halftime 39-21.
Sparta’s press would continue to cause the Lady Owls fits in the second half, as they could get no closer than 15 points. Sparta was led in the scoring by Cailyn Long with 17 points but one of the key players for the Lady Trojans was junior Tensa Gilley, who was a defensive presence in the paint. Another key player for Sparta was junior Keeley Virtue with unofficially 12 rebounds and 12 points for the Lady Trojans.
“We’ve been working with Keeley on her footwork, and it’s really starting to pay off,” said Sparta coach Mike Plante. “She’s been working hard and it’s starting to show.”
“Our defense was the key to the game and I think that’s what really won it for us” said Virtue. “We’ve practiced on being more physically and mentally tough, and that has helped us immensely in the games. We’ve worked on shooting and having everybody be a part of the team.”
Sparta, who had some defensive woes before Christmas, used the break to work on those concerns.
“The key tonight was definitely our defense,” said Plante. “Spokane’s a lot bigger than we are and we can’t handle them inside so we kind of stretched the floor out and extended our defense.
“We are 12-3 now and our three losses have been really good for us. We’ve learned a lot from those.”
Leading the Lady Owls in scoring was senior Tayler Murray with 20 points.
Spokane 9 12 12 8 -41
Sparta 22 17 15 8 -62
Spokane—Tayler Murray-20, Ryleigh Maples-6, Sadie Byrom-4, Kylie Wright-4, Sabrina Lator-4, Keylee Brown-3.
Sparta—Cailyn Long-17, Nicole Jenkins-14, Keeley Virtue-12, Tensa Gilley-6, Meg Moles-6, Brandi Stevens-3, Taylor Johnson-2, Sydney Foley-2.
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