The Ash Grove Lady Pirates improved to 4-0 on the season with a 56-36 victory over Springfield Catholic at O’Reilly Gymnasium. In a battle of Class 3 teams that both had post-season runs last year stopped by eventual state champion Mt. Vernon, the Lady Pirates showed why they will be a force to be reckoned with again this year. With all five starters back from last year’s team that went 21-8 with an all-sophomore starting lineup, this team has it’s sights set even higher this season.
Coach Brent Milleson’s athletic group used a 12-0 run early in the first quarter to jump out to a 17-4 lead. Erin Weinreis scored the Lady Pirates first 6 points of the game.
“I thought we were able to do some pretty good things tonight. I thought Catholic had a really nice second quarter,” said Ash Grove Coach Brent Milleson. “Catholic rode some momentum and had some energy, but I was proud of the way we responded in the second half. I thought defensively, we were able to maintain control.”
Springfield Catholic refused to go away and actually outscored Ash Grove over the middle two quarters of the game before running out of gas in the fourth quarter. The Lady Irish, behind the scoring of guards Emma Thomas and Chelsea Collins, closed to within 12 points a couple of times, the last at 44-32 early in the fourth quarter.
Thomas, a junior and Collins, a sophomore, each had 17 points to account for nearly all of Catholic’s offense. Coach Josh Miller, in his first year as head coach of the Lady Irish, liked what he saw in his young team.
“We talked at the beginning of the game about wanting to play with heart, we wanted to compete, and we wanted to play disciplined,” said Miller. “Ash Grove came out at the beginning and they showed us their speed and athleticism and their ability to shoot the ball, as well as their depth off the bench,” Miller added. “In the second and third quarters, I thought we figured it out a little bit. We made some adjustments and our girls picked it up a little bit. We made a couple of buckets and we made a couple of stops. We hung in there.”
Ash Grove was led by 6’0 junior forward Lakin Simmerman with 15 points, 11 of them in the second half. Junior forward Katie Skelton added 12 and junior Halee Cashio scored 9.
Ash Grove won an abbreviated JV game 18-15.
Scoring by quarters:
Ash Grove 17 16 9 14 - 56
Catholic 4 17 9 6 - 36
Ash Grove: Lakin Simmerman 15, Katie Skelton 12, Halee Cashio 9, Erin Weinreis 6, Abby Arico 4, Nikki Ogle 3, Madi Johnson 3, Jamie Mauss 2, Shayla Coale 2.
Catholic: Emma Thomas 17, Chelsea Collins 17, Megan Loethen 2.
Records: Ash Grove 4-0, Springfield Catholic 2-2.