By John Miller (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Nixa, Mo. – Few teams can go scoreless over a nine-and-a-half minute stretch and still win, but thanks to its solid defense, the Rogersville Wildcats did just that on Tuesday night.
Rogersville made a layup 10 seconds into the third quarter – and didn’t score until almost two minutes were gone in the fourth.
“Our defense has got it done for us all year,” Rogersville coach Denny McHenry said. “We know what our identity is, and we don’t seem to panic a whole lot when we do turn it over.”
In a game that featured many patient offensive possessions, Rogersville forced 11 turnovers and held Carl Junction to 38 percent from the field (11-for-29) as it beat the Bulldogs 27-25 in the Class 4 sectionals at Nixa High School.
Taylor Overstreet led Rogersville with eight points. Missouri State commit Katie Scott finished with 16 points for the Bulldogs on 15 field-goal attempts (7-for-15).
“You try to take (Scott) away from the basket, double team her, and still not let people sneak in behind you,” McHenry said. “I thought our kids did a great job of double-teaming her and not fouling her to put her at the free throw line. You’re just hoping that they don’t make a bunch of threes when you do that.”
Rogersville led 21-20 with two minutes to play when senior Jordyn Gault used a pair of defensive plays to give her team control. On back-to-back possessions, she jumped the passing lane and intercepted passes. Rogersville went on a 6-0 run, stretching its lead to 27-20 with 43.8 seconds to play. It seemed like it had the game in the bag.
“Those were huge,” McHenry said. “That’s what she does. Sometimes she’ll drive me nuts when she tries to goes for steals and breaks down defensively. With all players you have to take the good with the bad and the bad with the good. She got a couple steals in big time moments and we needed them all.”
Carl Junction fought back. A layup by Scott cut it to 27-22, and back-to-back steals by the Bulldogs were converted into buckets by Kenzee Shanks. With 12 seconds remaining, the Wildcats lead was chopped to 27-25.
Last year, Carl Junction hit a late 3-pointer in a come-from-behind win over Rogersville in the sectionals. This year had a different ending. After Rogersville turned the ball over with 4.4 seconds left, Carl Junction had it with the full length of the floor to go, trailing by two.
“At the end, we said that even though it was a two-point game, we were going to switch screens and not give up a 3-pointer,” McHenry said. “I wasn’t going to let (Carl Junction) bring the ball down the floor. If we fouled, we were going to send them to the line to shoot the 1-and-1, and it worked out for us.”
Scott caught the inbounds pass and dribbled to midcourt but never got a shot off. Suffocating defense from the Wildcats prevented her from getting a clean look at the basket.
“For our seniors, their first two years they didn’t win a district championship,” McHenry said. “Last year, they got over the hump. Were we going to go their last two years and not win a sectional? Our seniors said ‘Heck no. We’re not going to be here after this year.
“Hats off to them. I couldn’t coach a better group of girls. They let me get after them and they do what I want them to do. They just don’t give up – ever.”
Rogersville 27, Carl Junction 25
Rogersville: Overstreet 8, Gault 6, Dunavant 5, McHenry 4, Ince 2, Nixon 2
Carl Junction: Scott 16, Shanks 4, Winder 3, Hughes 2