The McDonald County Lady Mustangs pulled away in the second half, led by 13 fourth-quarter points from Rita Santillan, to beat Jasper, 49-36, on Nov. 29 in the fifth-place game of the Freeman Sports Medicine CJ Classic at Carl Junction High School.
The win gave Chris Kennedy his first win as coach of the Lady Mustangs following losses in the first two rounds of the tournament.
"I didn't know but I heard it was a long time (0-15 start) before they got their first win last year, so it's good to get one in the first week," Kennedy said. "It wasn't the best first half, but I think we scored about 42 points in the last two and a half quarters."
Thirteen of those came from Santillan in the final eight minutes.
McDonald County led 30-26 to start the final period before Jasper scored on its first possession of the quarter to cut the lead to 30-28. Santillan then hit back-to-back three-pointers to stretch the Lady Mustangs lead to 36-28.
Jasper scored before Caitlyn Barton answered for the Lady Mustangs to keep the lead at eight. Jasper hit a free throw to get to within seven at 38-31, but Kristin Penn hit a pair of free throws and Santillan tossed in another trey to give McDonald County a 43-31 lead.
Jasper's Baylee Jeffries hit a short jumper, but Santillan answered with her fourth three-pointer in less than six minutes of the period to give McDonald County a 46-33 lead.
"Things kind of got going our way and Rita got hot," Kennedy said. "We changed a couple of things in our offenses and we talked to Rita at halftime about some things she was doing fundamentally on her shot. She adjusted and started hitting them."
Jasper took a 9-5 lead at the end of the first quarter and led 13-7 midway through the second before the Lady Mustangs used a pressure defense to force three consecutive steals that led to easy baskets to score seven straight for a 16-13 lead. Jasper added a free throw in the final seconds to cut the margin to 16-14 at halftime.
McDonald County built a 28-18 lead midway through the third quarter, but Jasper scored eight straight points to cut the lead to 28-26 before Ragan Wilson scored to close out the quarter.
"Our press is getting better and better," Kennedy said. "They weren't the most athletic team we will see, so we are still going to have to get our intensity up against the better teams. It's good to get that first win. I thought we could have gotten it last night (overtime loss to Neosho), so I was worried how the girls would react tonight. I think it did hurt us in the first quarter when we started off slowly."
Santillan finished with 19 points and Wilson with 13 to lead the Lady Mustangs. Penn added six points, while Barton and Addy Mick had four each, Lily Allman two and Mattie Leach one to round out the scoring for McDonald County.
Katelyn Dockery led Jasper with 15 points.
McDonald County, 1-2, hosted Providence Academy on Dec. 4 before beginning play in the Lady Eagle Classic on Dec. 6 at Joplin High School.
The Neosho Lady Wildcats hit seven free throws in the final minute of overtime to claim a 55-50 win over McDonald County on Nov. 28 in the consolation semifinals of the Freeman Sports Medicine CJ Classic.
Neosho forced overtime when Maile Gindling hit one of two free throws with 3.9 seconds to tie the game at 46-46.
Wilson opened the scoring in the overtime for McDonald County with two charities, but Neosho got a steal and a layup with 1:10 left and then secured the win at the free-throw line down the stretch.
McDonald County led 34-33 entering the fourth quarter and built a 46-42 lead with a minute and a half left on Santillan's two free throws, but Neosho scored the final four points of regulation to send the game to overtime.
McDonald County led 6-4 at the end of the first quarter and outscored the Lady Wildcats 20-12 in the second to take a 26-16 lead at halftime.
"The first half was probably the best we have played, including summer ball and all," Kennedy said. "That was very encouraging, but the second half we were in foul trouble and weren't able to press like we did in the first half. That kind of got us behind the eight ball. Situation wise, we have to do a better job handling the ball and knowing the score and time in game situations. It's a learning process right now. All in all, we just need to do what we did in the first half for all four quarters."
Santillan scored 16 points to lead the Lady Mustangs. Wilson and Alexia Kitlen added eight points each, while Sam Frazier had five, Leach and Alexia Estrada four each, Allman three and Sydney Killion two.
Neosho's Madi Flynn led all scorers with 24 points.Sports on 12/06/2018
Print Headline: Lady Mustangs Give Kennedy First Win At MCHS