It took the 2018-2019 McDonald County Lady Mustang basketball team only seven games to match last year's win total of three.
Two of those wins came in last week's 22nd annual Freeman Lady Eagle Classic, which earned McDonald County a fifth-place finish.
McDonald County claimed fifth place with a 41-30 win over Joplin on Dec. 8. Joplin led 8-6 at the end of the first quarter before McDonald County took a 13-12 lead at halftime. The Lady Mustangs outscored Joplin, 15-5, in the third quarter to stretch its lead to 28-17 at the end of three quarters.
Sam Frazier scored 13 points and Kristin Penn 12 to lead McDonald County, which hit nine of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Ragan Wilson added seven points, while Mattie Leach had six and Rita Santillan three to round out the scoring for McDonald County.
Dayleigh Smith led Joplin with 13 points.
Blue Valley West claimed a 61-19 win on Dec. 6 over McDonald County on the way to winning the tournament title in the tourney opener.
In a battle of the Lady Mustangs, the top-seeded Blue Valley North Lady Mustangs led only 13-9 at the end of the first quarter but used a 20-5 advantage to take a 33-14 lead at intermission and then stretched the margin to 48-18 after three periods.
Santillan scored nine points to lead McDonald County, followed by three from Alexia Kitlen, two each by Frazier, Penn, Leach and one from Sydney Killion.
In the consolation semifinals on Dec. 7, McDonald County trailed 28-24 after three quarters before rallying in the fourth period for a 46-39 win over Blue Valley West.
Blue Valley's CC Forcellini hit a three-pointer to open the fourth quarter to give the Lady Jaguars a 31-24 lead, but after a basket by Wilson and the teams trading free throws, McDonald County went on a 15-0 run to take a 42-32 lead with 1:01 left in the game to seal the win.
Ten of the 15 points came on free throws. Frazier'sthree-pointerr with 4:20 left to put McDonald County on top 34-32 and a layup by Santillan that stretched the margin to 36-32 were the only points in the stretch that were not from the foul line.
McDonald County led 8-5 at the end of the first quarter and 21-14 at halftime before Blue Valley came out after intermission and outscored the Lady Mustangs 14-3 in the third quarter to put the Lady Jaguars up by four entering the final period.
"Coming out of halftimes and out of quarters, we have been coming out slow," said coach Chris Kennedy. "But in the fourth quarter tonight we kind of flipped it on them. I thought we grew tonight. We were so proud of what we call the 'eight inches from our heart to our gut.' To respond like that and not shut down after leading the whole first half and then getting behind was good to see. It would have been easy to quit, but the girls kept playing hard and we were able to overcome a really bad third quarter."
Wilson scored 17 points and Frazier 16 to lead McDonald County. The two combined to make 15 free throws out of 18 attempts, including a six of six effort from Frazier.
Rounding out the scoring for the Lady Mustangs were Leach with six points, Santillan four, Penn two and Kitlen one.
Blue Valley West was led by Shaun Holmes with 13 points.
Providence Academy claimed a 54-27 win in a regular season game on Dec. 4 at MCHS.
The Lady Patriots jumped out to a 13-7 at the end of the first quarter and stretched the lead to 28-12 at halftime and 50-19 after three periods.
Frazier scored seven points to lead McDonald County, followed by Santillan with five, Penn, Killion and Leach four each, Wilson two and Caitlyn Barton one.
Faith Curry led Providence with 19 points.
In the junior varsity game, McDonald County claimed a 41-31 decision.
The Lady Mustangs were led by Alexia Estrada with 13 points and Mollie Milleson with 10. Rounding out the scoring for McDonald County were Abby Wiseman with seven points, Adasyn Leach and Lily Allman four each and Kloe Myers three.
Gravette used a 16-0 run to close out the third quarter and to start the fourth to pull away from the Lady Mustangs for a 62-38 win on Dec. 10 at MCHS.
McDonald County trailed 13-10 at the end of the first period and 32-23 at halftime before cutting the lead to 37-29 early in the third quarter.
But the Lady Lions answered by scoring the final 14 points of the third quarter and the first two points of the fourth for a 53-29 lead on the way to the 62-38 win.
Frazier and Wilson each scored nine points to lead McDonald County, followed by Penn with eight points, Santillan and Leach four each, Alexia Estrada three and Lily Allman one.
Gravette was led by Jessica Bookout with 20 points.
Gravette claimed a 54-39 win in the junior varsity game, pulling away in the second half after leading 28-22 at halftime.
Kloe Myers scored eight points and Abby Wiseman seven to lead the Lady Mustangs. Rounding out the scoring for McDonald County were Estrada and Laney Wilson with six points each, Addy Mick and Mollie Milleson with four each and Allman and Caitlyn Barton two each.
Gravette made it a three-game sweep with a 49-19 win in the freshman game.
Ebenee Munoz scored eight points to lead McDonald County, followed by Myers with four points, Wiseman three and Madison Grider and Alexes Gidcumb two each.Sports on 12/13/2018
Print Headline: Lady 'Stangs Season Starts Better Than Last Year