Chadwick uses big first half to pull away from Niangua in Pleasant Hope title game

By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

There are bumps and bruises, then there’s the rash of injuries that the Chadwick Lady Cardinals have experienced this season.

Sprained ankles. A broken wrist. An Achilles tendon.

Such major injuries can derail the season for a Class 1 school like Chadwick.

“Depth was one thing we thought we could rely on this season,” said Chadwick coach Scott Payne. “We’ve had several games where we’ve only had six players available. We’ve just had to overcome those injuries and tell the girls, ‘It’s next man up.’

As evident this week, the Chadwick Lady Cardinals may be starting to turn the corner.

Chadwick led by 18 at halftime and cruised to a 53-24 victory over Niangua on Friday night in the championship game of the Pleasant Hope Tournament.

“We’re just now starting to get healthy and get our full squad back,” Payne said. “I don’t think we’ve reached our full potential yet, but hopefully we can by the time districts get here.”

Paisley Gilbert led Chadwick (10-5 overall) with 17 points. Three other players scored eight or more.

Chadwick landed four players on the all-tournament team, including Gilbert.

“We shoot pretty well from the outside usually, so that opens up things on the inside,” Gilbert said of Chadwick’s scoring balance. “We can score from pretty much anywhere, which helps.”

After winning 20 games and a district championship last season, Chadwick has added a strong rookie class to its roster this season.

Freshmen Kerrigan Guerin (15 points per game) and Raeleigh Little (13 ppg) lead Chadwick in scoring through the midway point.

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF THE GAME

“We’ve shared the ball really well,” Payne said.

Both teams played on tired legs Friday.

Originally scheduled for Saturday, the final day of the girls’ tournament moved up to Friday night due to expected snowfall in the area.

The semifinals were Thursday night.

“Playing back-to-back nights, we were sluggish and maybe a little tired at times,” Payne said. “We try to pressure teams and force turnovers, which lead to easy baskets. We didn’t turn them over like we expected to, so tonight kind of turned into a half-court game. I like the way we competed, though.”

Said Gilbert: “The legs are tired and our shots weren’t falling that great. It definitely made this game feel a little more difficult.”

Niangua, which only had five players in uniform on Friday, got a team-high nine points from Ashton Stuber.

Chadwick beat Niangua, a conference and district opponent, 52-30 at home on December 14. Chadwick hasn’t lost to Niangua in over a decade.

“We know this team pretty well, so we knew what we needed to do coming into tonight,” Gilbert said.

Chadwick hosts RUSH Home School on Monday. Niangua plays at Fordland on Tuesday.

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