The East Newton Lady Patriots defeated the McDonald County Lady Mustangs 47-24 Friday on the third day of the Neosho Holiday Classic at Neosho Middle School.
The Lady Patriots grabbed a 7-6 lead in the first quarter as both teams struggled shooting from the floor. While they were waiting for their offense to heat up, it was the defense that possessed the hot hand for the Lady Patriots. They held the Lady Mustangs to two points in the second quarter to take a 15-8 lead into halftime.
The Lady Mustangs, meanwhile, tried jumpstarting their offense in the first half by shifting Preslea Reece, who normally plays under the basket, to point guard. By the second half, the Lady Mustangs, needing Reece’s presence inside the paint, moved her back inside and the team came alive with 11 points in the third quarter.
By that time, however, the Lady Patriots were on a roll, scoring 32 second half points and never allowing McDonald County back in it.
“Well, it made sure she was always in the working end of the court when we needed her,” Lady Mustangs coach LaDonna McClain said of the first half adjustment. “We just don't have a strong enough point guard, so we moved Reece to see how it might work out."
Both teams fought hard, but the edge went to the Lady Patriots, who turned in the higher shooting percentage.
"We started off slow offensively, but we did a good job on defense, especially slowing down Reece," Lady Patriots coach Marty Rinehart said after the game.
The second half belonged to the Lady Patriots as they doubled up on the Lady Mustangs’ points total (32-to-16) the second half. Kourtney Brewster played a key role for East Newton over that span of time, as she scored all 10 of her points in the second half.
"In the second half we moved the ball better, and since we have several players that are all within striking distance of being our top scorer, we have the advantage of being able to play where our opponents give us openings," Rinehart said.
Whitney Thomlinson led the Lady Patriots with 14 points while Shelbey Thomlinson added seven, Emily Brummett four, Haley Heilig two, Laura Hopper four and Sarah Harper six.
Reece was the top points getter (10) for the Lady Mustangs while Cendy Garcia pitched in seven, Baili Nelson two and Courtni Smith five.