Glorified exhibition game or not, if Crane’s involved, defense will be played.
The Area Girls, led by a foursome and head coach that won four straight state titles at Crane, put the defensive clamps on the City team in the Lions All-Star Basketball Classic Saturday night at Baptist Bible College’s W.E. Dowell Field House.
The Area held the City to just two points in the second quarter and led by double digits the entire second half, on its way to a 57-34 victory.
"There were rules where we couldn't press in the first half, and (Area coach Jeremy Mullins) didn't like that, so he said, ‘That means half-court, you better be up on them,'" said Crane’s Justeen Mahan, who scored 15. "He was like, 'We can't press, so you better be playing defense.'"
Outside shooting was hard to come by for both teams, but especially a City side that had just two points in the second quarter and made three field goals in the first half.
The Area threatened to blow the game open early in the second half, stretching a 13-point halftime lead up to 20 in the opening minutes.
The City responded by scoring in transition offense, with Jas Williams, Kaycee Gerald and Laurnea Jarman converting easy layups off of Area turnovers.
After its 20-point lead was cut down to 10, the Area responded with six quick points and ultimately pulled away for good.
“You could tell both teams were tired, but it was fun playing with them and getting used to each other and the plays and stuff,” said Marshfield’s Peyton Greenlee, who scored 14. She’s headed to William Woods for basketball, along with Hillcrest’s Gerald and Jarman.“I played in the (MBCA Missouri Challenge All-Star Game at Drury) with a lot of the same players, so it was fun to play with them again.”
With the victory, the Area Girls now lead the City 24-12 in the all-time series.
The game served as a final send-off for Crane’s highly successful 2016 senior class. With Emma Lander (Evangel volleyball and track) not dressed due to a knee injury, Crane was represented on-court by Lexie Vaught (game-high 17 points, Drury commit), Mahan (Evangel commit), Kylee Moore (Evangel commit) and Shelby Roder (North Ark. CC).
"Coach Mullins has been like… a role model for me," Mahan said. "I've been playing for him for six years. It's great playing for him and (assistant coach Billy) Reedus one last time.”
Area 57, City 34
Area 15 9 15 18 — 57
City 9 2 12 11 — 34
Area – Lexie Vaught 17, Justeen Mahan 15, Peyton Greenlee 14, Kylee Moore 4, Taylor Faulkner 3, Jordan Kabetske 3, Bailey Weaver 1
City – Laurnea Jarman 9, Jaslyn Williams 7, Laura Vierkant 6, Kaycee Gerald 6, Hannah Cantrell 3, Amy Abdalla 2, Sharon Lopez 1