Entering Thursday’s regular season opener for both teams, it was tough for Seneca Lady Indians coach Bob Coffey and McDonald County Lady Mustangs coach LaDonna McClain to know what to expect from their teams. Four quarters later, and they have a better understanding where they’ll need to improve moving forward.
In a game that was close at halftime, the Lady Indians went on a 16-5 run in the third quarter and held off a late charge by the Lady Mustangs to prevail with a 38-30 victory at the McDonald County Tournament.
Things were evenly matched in the first half, but the Lady Indians carried a 22-17 lead to the intermission. When they emerged, the Lady Indians were on fire, and took a 38-22 advantage into the final period.
The Lady Mustangs would buckle down defensively in the final frame and didn’t allow a point. They went on an 8-0 run to close it out, but it wasn’t enough.
“There’s so many unknown’s in the first game,” Coffey said. “Now (we’ve) got something to go back and practice with. There were several runs by both teams. I thought our effort was just really sterling. I was very, very pleased with our effort.
“Early in the season you don’t expect execution to be great, but it was good enough execution, and sterling effort got us a win here tonight. I was especially proud of our defensive effort. We tried to pack the paint on them and we were successful in doing that.”
Bailey Skelton and Molli Cooper each scored nine points to lead the Lady Indians. Mirana Heath tossed in eight points while Rachel Butterfield tallied six, Anne Howard five and Elena Wood one.
Preslea Reece was a force for the Lady Mustangs with 16 points. Sarah Rickman turned in seven points, Courtni Smith three, and Kali Hodson and Dani Pierce pitched in two.
“It wasn’t a stellar performance on our part,” McClain said. “I was really disappointed in our defense more than anything. I thought we’d be further along than what we were (against Seneca). We didn’t really start playing hard until the last three or four minutes and, you know, we dug ourselves a hole and couldn’t get out of that.
“I thought Seneca shot the ball well. They rebounded well. We gave up too many offensive boards in the first half, and you’re not going to win many games doing that.”
The results weren’t there for the Lady Mustangs on Thursday, but there’s plenty of time between now and districts in February.
Page 2 of 2 - “We’ve got to find our niche,” McClain said. “We’re young on the floor and we’re new together. We can’t get frustrated. We’ve got to keep working and keep building, and work for the next one and hope that somewhere down the line things start clicking (so) we’ll be ready by the time we got to our district tournament. We’re just going to have to build and keep working.”