By Kary Booher
Marshfield, Mo. – It would have been understandable had Coley Rezabek and the Camdenton Lady Lakers been all too nervous.
After all, there they were Tuesday night, opening their season on the road and doing so just months after graduating four starters, including two college signees.
However, Rezabek calmed nerves by scoring 16 of her 20 points before halftime, and a stubborn defense and astute bench proved significant, too, as Camdenton beat the Marshfield Lady Jays 71-65 at Marshfield High School.
“I wouldn’t say we were nervous. But we did have big shoes to fill,” Rezabek said. “So we all came in with the mindset of knowing what we each needed to do. I felt like we all came together, played as a team and pulled out the [win].”
Camdenton certainly delivered a gritty performance on a night when Blair Katz and reserve Natalie Basham also scored 16 and 14 points, respectively.
The difference was the second quarter. The Lady Lakers, who already fell into the double bonus in the opening stanza, shored up their defense and created offense out of it. The quarter opened tied 19-all, but Camdenton built a 12-point advantage just before halftime.
From there, a pair of Marshfield turnovers to open the third quarter led to two Camdenton buckets and a 13-point advantage. The Lady Lakers never let it fall below seven points.
“I was probably trying to stay too far up in the press (in the first half),” Marshfield coach Shelly Jones said. “They are probably as quick as any team we’ll see this season.”
For Camdenton, it was as encouraging opening night, given the Lady Lakers lost 2,500 points of career scoring from last year, including Bailey Rezabek and Sophie Shore. They signed with Southwest Baptist and Evangel, respectively.
“I am definitely pleased with them. One of the things we are looking at is, ‘Who is going to fill in what role?’ Each one of these girls were role players last year,” Camdenton coach Staci Coffey said.
“(In the second quarter), it was minor adjustments. We got out on the open shooter. And the biggest to me was pulling down rebounds, blocking out and not giving them that second and third shot.”
The bench also was key. Rezabek fell into foul trouble before halftime, and three others were nursing two fouls apiece. Basham led the charge.
“It’s hard not starting, but once you get out there, I have to bring that intensity,” Basham said.
Meanwhile, Marshfield is adjusting, too, after graduating All-State selection Peyton Greenlee. In fact, the Lady Jays played two freshmen at times.
Still, the Lady Jays took away some positives. Zoe Bisby scored 19 points, Dani Brewer 12 and Alexis Moon 10. To Jones, the assertive play – Marshfield got to the free-throw line 32 times, scoring 23 points – is something to build on, too.
Additionally, despite falling behind by double digits in the second half, Marshfield refused to let the game become a runaway. Twice the Lady Jays pulled within seven points, including at 65-58 on a Bisby 3-pointer with 2:58 left.
Jones hopes her young team takes note.
“Every time we were right there, we had a combination of turnovers,” Jones said. “If we’re going to compete against teams this year, we’ve got to take care of that basketball. We’ve just got to do some fundamental things as we progress through the season.”