Springfield, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) -- On an emotional night that featured the Catholic girls’ Senior Night as well as being the last game ever to be played in the O’Reilly Gym, the Lady Irish tried to catch lightning in a bottle with a furious fourth quarter comeback. The rally fell short, but produced an exciting final chapter for the gymnasium.
Both teams started slowly offensively with Catholic holding a 3-1 lead midway through the first quarter. A 6-0 run by Bolivar gave them a 7-3 lead at the end of the quarter. Bolivar would eke out a 16-14 halftime lead on a basket by 5’10 sophomore forward McKenzie Lesh just ahead of the buzzer.
In the third quarter, Bolivar outscored Catholic 17-8 to build a 33-22 lead. Bolivar coach Jeff Edge was pleased with how the halftime adjustments played out.
“In the first-half, Catholic was playing a 2-3 zone and we weren’t hitting shots and the girls were getting frustrated,” said Edge. “We talked at halftime about executing in the second-half. You’ve got to give it to our kids, they did a great job of doing that. We got a lot more scoring opportunities and they converted on those opportunities.”
A pair of six footers, senior Payton Peavey and sophomore Madison Campbell, were big offensive contributors. Peavey scored 11 points on the night and Campbell scored all 12 of her points in the second-half, getting 10 in the final 10 minutes of play.
Still trailing by 11 with 6:20 to go, Catholic unleashed a rally built on three point shooting. Big treys by 5’4 junior guard Julianne Cabasi and 5’3 junior guard Emma Thomas fueled the Lady Irish surge and a clutch three by 5’6 senior forward Madison Robertson cut it to 40-37 with 2:21 to go. But the Lady Liberators didn’t buckle as they scored the last six points of the game to pick up the win.
Despite the loss, Catholic head coach Josh Miller was proud of his team and aware of how meaningful the night was.
“I’m very proud of our girls. It was a great game, a little nostalgic, a little emotional. The girls wanted to come out and sign off here on a high note,” said Miller. “We played well, but we got into foul trouble early and had to start rotating and putting girls in spots that they’re not comfortable in or they’re not used to. The third quarter was a killer. Bolivar caught fire and scored 17 points. We gave it a great effort and tried to make up the difference, but came up a little short.”
Coach Edge was impressed by the atmosphere in the final game at the old gym.
“Looking around after the game, the fans were still milling around and I was thinking about how many great games have been played in this gym,” said Edge. “It was a great way to close out this classic gym and we’re glad we were part of it.”
Bolivar still has a non-conference road game with Camdenton Monday. The Lady Irish will begin district play on Monday as they play Ava at Hollister in Class 3. Bolivar is now 17-6 overall and 5-1 in Central Ozark Conference Small Division play. Catholic stands at 9-16 and 3-3 in conference.
Scoring by quarters:
Bolivar 7 9 17 13 - 46
Catholic 3 11 8 15 - 37
Bolivar: Madison Campbell 12, Peyton Peavey 11, Shelby Roberts 6, Daiwa Emmert 5, Randi Hancock 5, Liz Harris 2, McKenzie Lesh 2, Kaylie Rothdiener 2, Mary Beth Payne 1.
Catholic: Emma Thomas 13, Chelsea Collins 8, Julianne Cabasi 7, Madison Robertson 4, Megan Loethen 3, Elise Roeder 2.
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