Rogersville, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) -- Springfield Catholic won an epic Central Ozarks Conference battle at Rogersville Thursday night, picking up its fourth straight win by a score of 67-63.
Catholic got out of the gate quickly as they powered past the Lady Wildcat defense for six layups in the first quarter and jumped on top 19-8. A 3-point play early in the second quarter by Emma Thomas gave Catholic its largest lead at 24-10. That’s when Rogersville made adjustments on defense and the offense fed off that energy as they poured in 24 second quarter points, including eight by 5’5 junior guard Haley Rust in the last 90 seconds to get within two point at 34-32 at halftime.
The comeback did not surprise Rogersville coach Keith Spaulding.
“I’ve said all year long that this is a great group of kids. They’ve never given up, they’ve worked extremely hard, and they’re a joy to coach,” said Spaulding. “We play a tough schedule by design and we’re happy we do. We hope it prepares us for games like tonight.”
The second-half featured 10 lead changes and a blazing shooting display by Rust and 5’3 Catholic sophomore guard Chelsea Collins. A 3-point play by Rogersville’s 5’9 senior forward Crystal Crawford gave the Lady Wildcats their first lead since the opening minute of the game as they led 36-34 just into the third quarter. Catholic led 46-40 with 2:02 left in the quarter when Collins injured her knee and had to be helped off the court. Rogersville cut the lead to 48-47 on a basket by Rust at the buzzer.
Rust scored five quick points early in the fourth quarter as Rogersville jumped back on top, 52-50. But Collins would answer with a bucket to tie it. A 3 pointer by Rust put the Lady Wildcats up 55-54. She would soon tie it at 59 with another 3 pointer. But it was Collins who stole the show as she shook off the injury and poured in 15 fourth quarter points, including the last 11 in a row for Catholic. Collins was 8 for 8 from the free throw line in the pressure packed last 1:49 of the game.
“Chelsea came back in the fourth quarter and did what a star does. She made big buckets and big free throws,” said Catholic head coach Josh Miller of Collins performance.
Collins scored 30 points on the night, including 21 in the second half. Rust wound up with 29 for Rogersville, 18 coming in the second half.
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