The Willard Lady Tigers scratched and clawed their way to a 37-33 victory over the Neosho Lady Wildcats in Monday’s Class 5, District 12 Semifinal matchup.
“Offensively we struggled,” said Willard coach Mike Percival. “I felt defensively we did a fairly good job.”
Neosho held a lead at the end of each quarter but Willard, besides the 1st quarter, won every other quarter from there on out. Neosho was leading 10-6 after the 1st and 18-15 at the half. The Lady Wildcats led by two after three quarters of play but were outscored in the 4th quarter by a six point margin which was enough to propel Willard to the victory.
Willard trailed the whole game until sophomore forward Chelsey Perry hit a 3-pointer to put the Lady Tigers up 32-30 with under two minutes to go. The game saw two ties and three lead changes from that point on.
Willard held a 35-33 lead with 12 seconds to go when Lady Wildcat Morgan Rathmann drove the lane attempting a floater before Perry blocked the would-be game tying basket. Willard secured the rebound and was immediately fouled.
“We won today and get to play on Thursday,” said Percival. “That’s about it right now but once our heads hit the pillow, it’ll be over and we’ll go to work tomorrow and get ready for the championship.”
Willard was led by Perry with 10 points. No other Lady Tiger scored in double figures.
“The intensity was high a little bit and our guards are still a little bit inexperienced too still,” said Percival about Willard’s troubles offensively Monday night. “My guards were stubborn and didn’t want to penetrate and when they finally did, we started getting easy buckets.”
Neosho finishes the season 8-17. The Lady Wildcats will only lose Morgan Rathmann for next season to graduation.
With the win, Willard improves to 12-13. They will face district host Parkview on Thursday for the district championship.