Billings, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) -- Defending Southwest Conference Champions, the Sparta Lady Trojans, opened their conference play Monday night with a win against the Billings Lady Wildcats, 70-54.
The intensity of the play was high from the start of the game as Billings started with a 6-0 run before Sparta made a basket. The Lady Trojans full-court press slowed the Lady Wildcats.
With the scores bouncing within 1 or 2 points, Billing’s Maci Saxe closed the first quarter with a spectacular half-court shot at the buzzer. Each team’s defense continued to frustrate the other by forcing missed shots. The score at the half was Sparta 31, Billings 25.
Lady Trojan coach Mike Plante was pleased with how his team performed.
“Our defense came out and did great. Our offense was slow in the beginning. We missed shots that we could have made. We have a lot of young kids. We are working hard and look to do well in our conference. Crane is the favorite in the Southwest Conference, but we will be right up there,” said Plante.
Both teams came out of the locker room sluggish after halftime. Sparta was the first team to find their stride, going on a 10-point scoring run thanks to some well-placed 3-point shots. Sparta led by as much as 19 during the 4th quarter. Billings continued to fight until the end of the game.
Coach Chris Gold of Billings was very proud of the girls.
“They stayed right in the game. We just couldn’t get a shot. We did keep Cailyn Long of Sparta down, from her usual 20 points per game. Once the rest of the Sparta team started scoring, we couldn’t stop them,” said Gold.
The Lady Wildcats travel to Buffalo on Jan. 8th. Sparta next plays Spokane at home on Jan. 10th.
Sparta 18, 7, 27, 13 - 70
Billings 17, 3, 15, 11 - 54
Sparta - Cailyn Long 15,Brandi Stevens 14, Nicole Jenkins 12, Tensa Gilley 9, Keeley Virtue 8, Taylor Johnson 5,Sydne Foley 4, Megan Moles 2.
Billings - Mace Saxe 21, Stephanie Bass 14, Andrea Begley 9, Shondra Davis 5, Olivia Favro 3, Sierra Wilson 2.