“I’ve been coaching 25 years now, at that’s the first time I’ve ever made the first 3 shots and been up 10-0,” Mike Percival said.
It would only get better for Willard from there. The Lady Tigers kept Monett scoreless in the first quarter, leading 28-0 after the first eight minutes. Willard went on to win 64-19 in the season opener for both teams.
Following Amber Percival’s 4-point play, Willard would get 3-pointers from Ali Perry and Mallory Kurtz. Coach Percival wasn’t sure if Willard will be known for its perimeter shooting this season, but they were for at least one night.
“We were (a 3-point shooting team) at that time,” Mike Percival said. “I don’t know if we can always depend on that. We do a lot of shooting and stuff and our perimeter game is better than last year, though.”
Monett’s biggest hurdle became getting its ugly goose egg off the scoreboard. On their first possession of the second quarter, the Lady Cubs got a basket from Kendall Bounous for their first points of the season.
“It was just about getting those first 2 points,” said Monett’s Kelly George, an MHS alum who is in her first season as head coach after being an assistant at the school last season. “It made a big difference because it got our players into the game a little bit.
“I just told them, ‘I’ll never give up on you, don’t give up. Those points are coming.’”
Monett trailed 43-12 at halftime and had more turnovers than field goal attempts in the first half. Junior guard Faith Schmidt led the Lady Cubs with 8 points.
George said her team will study the game film over Thanksgiving break and learn from the loss.
“We’re running everything new and we knew (Willard) would be a pretty good team,” George said. “We’re just trying to get into the flow of things. We haven’t ran a lot together yet or played a lot together yet.”
Willard got 14 points Perry, a 6-foot sophomore forward. While her low-post game may still be a bit raw, Mike Percival said, Perry is capable of knocking down open shots.
“She’s shown spurts of it throughout practice,” he said. “And she’ll stand out there and just bury shots when she’s by herself. Down where there’s traffic, it’s a little different. But she shot it well tonight.”
Willard also used an effective full-court press to hinder Monett even more in the first quarter.
“We haven’t worked on (the full-court press) a whole lot yet, but we’ve used it in the past,” coach Percival said. “We’ve got quite a few young players that haven’t been through this yet, so we’re trying to keep the older ones interested and let the younger players catch up. It looked really good tonight.”
The Lady Tigers will join the Willard boys squad for the Key Sport Tip-Off Class in Rolla on Saturday, an event that features a JV and varsity game for both teams. Willard will then host the Four-State Classic, which boasts Broken Arrow (Okla.), Ft. Scott (Kan.) and Har-Ber (Ark.), Nov. 29-Dec. 1.
Monett plays in the Carl Junction Tournament the week of Nov. 26.
Willard 64, Monett 19
Monett 0 12 2 5 --- 19
Willard 28 15 17 4 --- 64
Monett – Faith Schmidt 8, Jessica Harper 3, Lakin English 2, Brooke McLean 2, Kendall Bounous 2, Cheryl Barnes 2
Willard – Ali Perry 14, Makenzie Parker 11, Amber Percival 8, Mallory Kurtz 7, Caitlyn Carpenter 7, Chelsea Yates 4, Shelby Barrett 4, Rachel Williamson 3, Samantha Whitman 2, Mariah Stewart 2, Jelyne Shaw 2
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