Junior high girls off to strong start

The McDonald County seventh- and eighth-grade girls' basketball teams won back-to-back games this week in impressive fashion. Both teams cruised to a 42-6 win Tuesday night, hosting the Monett Cubs.

Abby J. Riley led all scorers for the seventh-graders with 11 points, while Crystal Rason added an additional 10 points. In all, eight different Mustangs scored in the contest: Jaya Thorne, 2; Mariliz Lazano, 6; Bella Reid, 6; Natalie Richards, 2; Allorah Benedict, 3; and Lana Bridenstine, 2.

A 17-4 second-quarter run ultimately put the game out of reach, increasing the halftime lead to 25-6. According to Head Coach Brent Jordan, defensive pressure ignited the flurry.

"We were a little stagnant," Jordan said. "Maelee (Whited) and Jasmine (Lay) gave us quite a spark with a couple of defensive steals. The pressure created some easy transition buckets for our guards."

On Monday, the seventh graders also recorded a double-digit victory, handing the visiting Bulldogs from Carl Junction a 31-14 defeat. Allorah Benedict led all scorers with 10 points, Mariliz Lozano chipped in with 9, and Crystal Rascon added 7 points.

Defensive pressure also aided in the victory.

"We're small," commented Coach Jordan. We only have ten healthy bodies right now. Once we got to halftime healthy and no foul trouble, we were able to turn up the defensive intensity with some full-court pressure."

The Mustangs would outscore the Bulldogs, 22-5, in the second half.

The eighth-grade Lady Mustangs have started the season a perfect 3-0, defeating the Joplin Eagles 33-32, Carl Junction 30-21, and the 36-point win over Monett. The eighth-graders have had three different leading scorers in each of the three games: Brianna Ziemianin, 10; Jayma Forcum, 10; and Haidin Pippin, 8.

The 2-1 seventh- and 3-0 eighth-grade girls teams will host the Lamar Tigers at 5:30 Thursday night at Anderson Middle School.