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1. Republic, 14-0 (1)
What do the Lady Tigers and the Kansas City Chiefs have in common? Absolutely nothing. Republic continued its dominance last week, picking up a big win over undefeated and state-ranked Sullivan last week. This week the Lady Tigers will battle Blue Valley Southwest in the Nevada Tournament. BVSW is ranked No. 7 in 5A.
2. Walnut Grove, 15-2 (2)
Much like the top ranked Lady Tigers, Walnut Grove has also been successful against a very challenging schedule. Last week WG picked up a pair of runaway wins over rival Weaubleau and Pleasant Hope, bouncing back from a tough loss to Crane. The Lady Tigers will visit Humansville on Friday before taking on Dadeville in a game that will likely decide the PCL title.
3. Crane, 16-3 (4)
The Lady Pirates are getting hot at the right time of the season. Crane has won seven straight games and is the definite favorite to take home the SWCL crown. Crane will host Purdy on Thursday and visit Reeds Spring in nonconference action.
4. West Plains, 16-1 (5)
Is it possible to be flying under the radar when you are state-ranked and once-beaten? In West Plains case yes. The Lady Zizzers seem to quietly be one of the strongest teams in the area. Although their schedule isn’t the toughest, they are beating whoever is in front of them. I would be surprised if the seven game winning streak they are riding gets snapped anytime soon.
Ash Grove is probably happy to be at this point of the season. The Lady Pirates, who fell in the Bolivar Tournament title game to Branson 45-44, will not have to play another Class 4 or 5 team for the rest of the season. However, the Mid-Lakes Conference is loaded top to bottom, with no team below .500.
6. Skyline, 15-4 (7)
Skyline is the Rocky Balboa of the Ozarks. No matter how many times they get knocked down, they keep coming back for more. The Lady Tigers have already played eight Class 4/5 teams not counting next week’s rematch with Nixa. Although not all of them have gone their way, I pity the fool that has to play the Lady Tigers come late February.
7. Seymour, 16-2 (8)
Steve Franks is my coach of the year to this point. Last year Seymour was 30-2, winning 30 straight games before falling in both Final Four games, one of which coming to eventual state champ Mount Vernon. From that team Seymour lost its top four scorers. How do they respond? A 16-2 record and a Summit League title has been a good start. With the Lady Tigers dropping down to Class 2, a return trip to Columbia isn’t out of the question.
8. Ozark, 12-5 (9)
Ozark has bounced back from that blowout loss to Rock Bridge, winning three straight games after Tuesday night’s rout of Kickapoo. However, the Lady Tigers return to their gauntlet of a schedule this weekend when they visit St. Joe’s Benton and No. 4 Blue Springs.
9. Dadeville, 16-1 (6)
Dadeville’s dance with perfection ended last week in the Stockton Tournament. The Lady Bearcats were beaten by a bigger, more physical Stockton team, led by 6-foot-three Jolene Shipps 27 points. Fortunately for Dadeville the loss means nothing to its long term goals however don’t think that the Lady Bearcats don’t have the February 12th rematch circled on their calendars.
10. Webb City, 14-3 (10)
The Lady Cardinals have quietly become a threat to win the COC Large crown this season. Despite the loss to Ozark, Webb City can throw itself right back into the thick of things by knocking off Republic next week.
11. Nixa, 16-3 (12)
The Lady Eagles have also found the light at the end of the tunnel that was the loss to Rock Bridge. Nixa has won four straight, including taking the Sedalia Tournament championship. The Lady Eagles will visit Skyline Monday in a PWLC rematch, before beginning their quest for a COC title with six straight conference games.
12. Thayer, 14-2 (11)
Thayer had its 14 game winning streak snapped in the championship game of its tournament by conference rival Willow Springs. That’s the bad news…. The good news? The Lady Bobcats get a chance at revenge on Monday with the winner taking the inside track for the SCA crown.
13. Chadwick, 15-5 (14)
Chadwick is starting to settle into Mark Twain Conference play, and their opponents are getting used to watching the ball go through the net. The Lady Cards have averaged nearly 68 points per game over their last four, led by junior guard Maddie Hursh, who may just be the area’s best shooter. Class 1 teams beware.
14. Fair Grove, 14-5 (NR)
The Lady Eagles have probably added to Coach Talbert’s blood pressure a bit, but they continue to win. Fair Grove has had a propensity for falling behind early, but stealing the win late; just ask Ash Grove, Skyline, or Hillcrest. The Lady Eagles play their last nonconference game Monday at Lebanon before finishing their brutal Mid-Lakes schedule.
15. Southwest (Washburn), 17-3 (NR)
The Lady Trojans have won eight straight after taking last week’s Rogersville Tournament, thanks to an overtime win over Kickapoo. Southwest has little standing between them and an Ozark 7 crown.
Knockin’ on the door: Branson (13-6), Weaubleau (13-4), Sparta (15-3), Marionville (13-5), Camdenton (12-4), Morrisville (12-4), Liberal (13-4)