Rogersville’s conference title drought extends well beyond the relatively young history of the Central Ozark Conference-Small Division.
But it’s on the verge of coming to an end.
The Wildcats, who last won a conference championship in girls’ basketball in the 1983-84 season, took another big step toward their first league title in over three decades Thursday night by defeating Marshfield, 70-59.
Rogersville can clinch an outright COC-Small title next week with wins over Hollister (Feb. 15) and Reeds Spring (Feb. 18).
“We didn’t talk about it when we beat Bolivar (on Feb. 1),” said Rogersville coach Denny McHenry. “We talked about tonight’s game and controlling our own destiny. But, we weren’t looking toward anything else. Whoever won tonight’s game was definitely going to have the upper-hand with the chance of winning a conference championship.”
Junior Sarah Jordan (18) and freshman Jordyn Gault (16) combined for 34 points to lead Rogersville and help the Wildcats overcome a 28-point effort by Marshfield senior Peyton Greenlee.
“We knew we had to take care of the ball and run our offense well, get good shots,” Gault said. “We knew (Marshfield) was going to get us in a fast tempo. We had to settle down, take good shots, pass the ball well and handle their press.”
Clinging to a 64-59 lead with 1:30 remaining, Rogersville got a key basket from Hailey Brown then had Gault go 3-for-4 at the free throw line to clinch the victory and stay atop the COC-Small standings.
“(Winning conference) would be amazing because my mom played here, she graduated in 1989, and she couldn’t win it going against Marshfield,” Brown said. “It would be an honor for us and our team to have up on the banner that we were conference champs.
“It’s one game at a time, we got past this hurdle, and now we’ll just keep on moving.”
Rogersville led for nearly the entire game, but wasn’t able to completely put away Marshfield until the final minute.
Early in the fourth quarter, Gault scored seven straight points to push Rogersville’s lead up to 62-48.
Despite not making a field goal until nearly five minutes into the fourth, Marshfield didn’t cave. The Jays drew fouls and got to the free throw line, chipping away at the deficit with the clock stopped.
Greenlee’s put-back with 1:58 remaining brought Marshfield as close as 62-58.
The 70 points were the second-most Rogersville has scored in a game all season, bested only by a 71-47 win over Poplar Bluff in early December.
“We know (Marshfield) likes to play fast and they’ve scored a lot of points here lately,” McHenry said. “I kept telling our girls, ‘We don’t want to play at that pace and shoot it that quick.’ But here’s the fine line you walk: If you don’t, sometimes you’re going to turn it over trying not to (play that pace).”
“As long as you’re making shots, which we were, you’re going to keep trying to do that.”
In addition to its conference games next week, Rogersville (14-7, 4-0) also faces Strafford in a non-conference game on Tuesday, Feb. 16 then Republic on Wednesday, Feb. 24.
McHenry is cautioning his team not to look past the “best team Hollister has had in quite some time.”
“Things can change quickly after you get that ‘signature win,’” McHenry said. “I have so much respect for Coach Jones and the Marshfield program. And not just in basketball, because I’ve battled it out in softball with them, too.”
Marshfield (11-11, 4-1) hosts Catholic on Monday then wraps up the regular season Monday, Feb. 22 at Reeds Spring.
Rogersville 70, Marshfield 59
Marshfield 18 14 15 12 — 59
Rogersville 24 12 15 19 — 70
Marshfield – Peyton Greenlee 28, Allie Owens 8, Lily Johns 8, Katie French 7, Skyler Collison 5, Savanna Vance 3
Rogersville – Sarah Jordan 18, Jordyn Gault 16, Hailey Brown 11, Olivia Johnston 8, Audra Metz 5, Hope Hefley 4, Rachel Jenkins 4, Sarah Posey 4
VIDEO HIGLIGHTS: Rogersville 63, Branson 58 (OT)