By Mike Phillips
Despite a poor-shooting performance, especially in the first half, the Smith-Cotton Lady Tiger defense stepped up in a 43-22 Lady Tiger win over the Kansas City Southwest Lady Indians Friday afternoon in the Smith-Cotton Lady Tiger McDonald’s Classic.
S-C, 9-8, struggled to find the bucket on offense in the first half and went into halftime with just a 23-10 lead over the winless Lady Indians.
“We need to continue to focus on our outside shooting,” said S-C Lady Tiger Coach Zach Vandevender. “We will have to play better than this to win tomorrow,”
S-C advanced to the consolation final against the Bishop Ward Lady Cyclones on Saturday afternoon. Bishop Ward edged Kansas City Center 53-42 in the other consolation semifinal Friday evening.
Of S-C’s 23 points in the first half, 10 of those came at the free throw line. S-C made 10 of 14 from the line in the first half and 14 of 21 in the game.
S-C came out with a different look on defense in the second half, going with a box-and-one defense on Lady Indian sophomore Kyessence Collins.
Collins scored seven of the Lady Indians’ 10 first half points. She was held scoreless in the third quarter. She finished with a team-high 11 points.
In fact, S-C held the entire Southwest squad scoreless in the third quarter and took a 35-10 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Lady Tigers led by as many as 28 points in the fourth quarter but Southwest made a late run to get within 19 late against the Lady Tiger reserves.
“That box-and-one worked well,” said Vandevender. “We wanted to key on #1 (Collins).”
Collins was the lone Lady Indian in double figures, scoring half of her team’s points.
S-C had a more varied attack on offense, despite shooting poorly for most of the game.
Elena Sharp led S-C with 11 points. Tayler Gero had seven and Jac Greer five.
In the two semifinal games Friday night, Nixa held Parkview scoreless in the fourth quarter and came from behind for a hard-fought 43-36 win and Hickman brutalized Rolla 64-23 to advance to the championship.
On Saturday afternoon, Southwest met Center for seventh place, S-C took on Bishop Ward in the consolation, two-time defending tournament champion Parkview and Rolla tangled for third and Nixa went up against Hickman for the championship. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.