The Neosho girls stormed back from a second half deficit to knock off the Purdy Lady Eagles 34-32 for fifth place in the 58th annual Neosho Holiday Classic on Saturday at Neosho Middle School.
What made the win even more impressive was the fact that, after leading 13-12 at halftime, the Lady Wildcats were outscored 13-4 in the third quarter and still survived.
Possessing an 11-10 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Lady Wildcats fell flat in the second period, scoring just two points. But, in the meantime, their defense picked up the offense by holding the Lady Eagles to just two points of their own as well.
That defensive stand proved vital, as the offense would need another quarter before figuring things out. But, boy, when it did, the Lady Eagles couldn’t stop them. Matty Liedtke nailed a pair of clutch 3-pointers down the stretch, and Morgan Rathmann added another. Corea Lowery stole a pair of passes and turned them into easy baskets on the other end of the floor.
Neosho outscored Purdy 17-7 in the fourth quarter.
Suddenly, the Lady Wildcats couldn’t be stopped.
“We had several kids that stepped up and did a lot of good things for us today,” Lady Wildcats coach Lance Robbins said. “Late in the game when we were down, Corea Lowery picked things up defensively for us. We had a couple of big possessions late where Matty Liedtke stepped up and hit a couple of big threes. Morgan Rathmann stepped up and hit a three.
“There was really a lot of kids that made some plays there for us when we needed it.”
But the X-factor, so to speak, for the Lady Wildcats proved to be sophomore Morgan Rogers. Not only did she lead the team in points with 10, but she also recorded a handful of blocks and Robbins credited her with altering 15-20 further shots by her presence alone.
“Morgan Rogers played extremely well for us today,” Robbins said. “She did a good job today in the post for us. Hopefully she’ll get some confidence from the way she played today and will continue to build on that.”
Rathmann finished with nine points while Lowery turned in eight, Liedtke six and Brooke Stauffer one.
Katie Hughes was an offensive force for the Lady Eagles as she netted 17 points as teammates Jayse Henderson had seven, Desirie Ennes two, Courtney White four and Mattie White two.
After playing four games in four days, the Lady Wildcats are now looking forward to having a few days off to rest. Robbins, meanwhile, is anxious to see how the momentum from the tournament, and the victory over Purdy in particular, carries over into the second half of the season.
Page 2 of 2 - “Once again, we played well in spurts,” Robbins said. “We just happened to play real well at the right time. There were really a lot of kids that made plays there for us when we needed it. Hopefully we’ll be able to take this and build off it into the second half of the season.”