After several close losses, the McDonald County Lady Mustangs basketball team's first win was just a matter of time.
That time came at last week's Seventh Annual Seneca Ladies Basketball Tournament. The Lady Mustangs picked up a pair of wins, including a 46-36 win over Seneca on Feb. 3 in the third-place game.
"We did some good things and we have been shooting the ball a lot better," said coach Blake Short. "We have said all year if we would shoot the ball better, we would win a lot of games. We pushed it out to a big lead and then late we kind of played on our heels. But not having many wins, we are still trying to figure out how to win."
McDonald County broke a 4-4 tie with six straight points to end the first quarter with a 10-4 lead. Sam Frazier then scored eight points in the second period, including two three-pointers, to help the Lady Mustangs stretch the margin to 22-10 at halftime.
Megan Mills scored eight points, including two treys, to help McDonald County open the third quarter with a 13-4 run to build a 35-14 lead before the Lady Indians scored the final five points of the period to cut the margin to 35-19.
The teams traded baskets to start the fourth quarter, but Seneca scored seven straight points to cut a 16-point lead to nine before Kristin Penn hit a short jumper with 2:30 left. Ragan Wilson added a late bucket and Mills hit two free throws to seal the Lady Mustangs' second win of the season.
"I thought we played well," Short said. "We did some good things -- some things to learn from. It was a good test for us to help us down the road."
Frazier finished with 11 points, and Mills 10, to lead a balanced Lady Mustang scoring attack. Rounding out the scoring for McDonald County were Penn with nine points, Wilson eight, Rita Santillan six and Laney Wilson two.
McDonald County stretched a 10-8 lead after the first quarter to a 26-16 at halftime and outscored the Joplin Lady Eagles 19-16 in the second half for a 45-32 win on Jan. 30 in the tournament opener for the Lady Mustangs' first win of the season.
"We played really well, especially defensively," Short said. "We hit enough shots and we were still without Ragan (Wilson) which was good for the other girls' confidence. We played a good all-around game. It was nice to have a little cushion at the end and we continued to hit shots. We didn't stop trying to score. I think if we would have gotten that first win earlier, our record would be completely different."
Penn led three Lady Mustangs in double figures with 13 points, while Frazier and Mills had 10 each. Santillan added seven points, followed by Aspen Bowman and Caitlyn Barton with two each and Laney Wilson one.
McDonald County missed four shots in the final minute, including a wide-open three-pointer that would have given the Lady Mustangs the win, as the Monett Lady Cubs held on for a 54-51 win on Feb. 1 in the tournament semifinals.
Monett opened the fourth quarter with a 45-39 lead and led 52-46 with two and a half minutes left before McDonald County rallied down the stretch to just come short of the upset.
Ragan Wilson hit back-to-back old-fashioned three-point plays, the second with 2:09 left to cut the Monett lead to 52-49, to spark McDonald County's comeback. Frazier then hit a pair of free throws with 1:23 remaining to cut the lead to 52-51.
But McDonald County then missed a pair of free throws and a jumper on its next two possessions that would have given the Lady Mustangs the lead. Monett hit one of two free throws with 15.4 seconds left for a two-point lead before McDonald County missed a trey for the win in the final seconds. Monett added a free throw with less than a second to go to make the final score 54-51.
"Monett is hard to guard," Short said. "They hit eight three's and, anytime we made a defensive mistake, they would make you pay for it. We didn't defensive rebound the way we normally do and we had some breakdowns defensively, but offensively I was very pleased. We went ahead and went for the win and we got as good a look as you could have asked for and it was inches away from going in."
Santillan scored 14 points and Ragan Wilson had 13 to lead the Lady Mustangs, followed by Frazier with nine, Penn six, Mills five and Barton four.
McDonald County improved to 2-16 heading into its make-up game with Seneca on Feb. 6. The Lady Mustangs host Providence Academy on Feb. 9 for homecoming.
The McDonald County junior varsity went 3-0 in the junior varsity division.
The Lady Mustangs opened with a 34-14 win over Monett. McDonald County built a 26-8 lead at halftime.
Lily Allman led McDonald County with 10 points, followed by Addy Mick with eight, Sydney Killion six, Katie Kester and Alexia Estrada four each and Mollie Milleson two.
McDonald County routed Riverton 45-13 on Feb. 1.
Allman had 13 points and Estrada 12 to lead the Lady Mustangs. Rounding out the scoring for McDonald County were Mick with nine points, Kester six, Killion three and Milleson two.
The Lady Mustangs closed out the tournament with a 38-17 win over Purdy.
Kester had a career-high 17 points to lead McDonald County, followed by Estrada with six points, Killion and Allman five each, Milleson four and Mick one.Sports on 02/08/2018
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