Posted: Friday, 15 March 2013 3:14PM

State Championship Preview: Webb City Lady Cardinals

So, how do you slay a giant?

The Webb City Lady Cardinals must figure that out in order to beat undefeated and nationally ranked juggernaut Incarnate Word Academy in Saturday’s Class 4 final at 4:50 p.m.

Here are five things to watch as Webb City tries to pull off the upset of all upsets.


Against the odds

Webb City coach Brad Shorter called it “David vs. Goliath.” Not that Webb City is a weak team; IWA is just that good.

The Red Knights (30-0) have trounced most of their opponents this season, with an average margin of victory of 36 points. They beat Class 5 title favorite Rock Bridge by 17 in early February.

Their closest game? A 59-56 win over Hoover (Ala.) in the season opener. Hoover has reached the state finals in its class five years in a row, winning three times.

Hold the fort

Dexter wasn’t able to reach double digits until late in the second quarter Thursday night against IWA.

Webb City needs another start like it had in Thursday’s semifinal win over Smithville, not the one it had when the Lady Cardinals fell behind 7-0 against Sullivan in the March 9 quarterfinals.

If Webb City falls behind by 12 or more in the first quarter, it’ll be over.

Target No. 1

The scariest thing about IWA? Their best player will be there for two more seasons.

Sophomore Napheesa Collier was named Gatorade’s Missouri Girls Basketball Player of the Year this week. Her stats are mind-blowing.

The 6-foot-1 guard averages 24.4 points and 11.7 rebounds per game. She also chips in over four steals, two blocks and two assists. She’s had a double-double in 26 of IWA’s 30 games and shoots nearly 70 percent from the field.

Other weapons

Junior guard Nakiah Bell would be a star player on almost any other team in the state. She averages about 11 points, seven assists and two steals per game. Senior guard Nia Roth averages over 11 points and shoots a team-best 69-for-171 from 3-point range.

IWA has three other players that average about six points or more. The Red Knights’ normal rotation includes about seven players.

Attack plan

Mikaela Burgess has the ability and guts to ignite a scoring run by herself, whether off a ball screen or going one-on-one off the dribble. She’ll certainly need to take care better care of the ball for this game after totaling 15 turnovers in Webb City’s last two games.

Webb City might try to slow the game down, and look to get forwards Casey Heger and Desirea Buerge some inside touches. Heger and Buerge combined for 16 free throw attempts against Smithville, although Heger missed seven of her nine tries.

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