In their final game before the Neosho Holiday Classic, the Neosho Lady Wildcats fell behind 7-4 early to rival East Newton on Monday night.
Head coach Grant Berendt called a timeout and whatever he said it worked because the Lady Wildcats went on a 26-0 run over the final half of the first quarter on into late in the second quarter en route to a 56-27 win over a winless East Newton squad.
The Lady Wildcats had a nice break between games, since a home win over Providence Academy, coincidentally another Lady Patriots. Maybe some of that rust showed early on Monday night.
“When we finished up at home on that 6th against Providence,” Berendt said, “we knew we had 12 days to work and go back to the drawing board. We have and two of the main things we worked on we tried showing tonight. It was rough going at times, but any time you throw in something new to the girls and they’ve only it in a breakdown form and not against a team, it’s a different look for us. I thought we did some things well, but we’ve got some work to do before our holiday tournament. I like where we’re at, but I’m not pleased with everything.”
East Newton took a 5-2 lead on a Robin Hussong trifecta and then led 7-4 on a Kaitlyn Hailey basket.
Allison Burr hit a pair of trifectas to give the Lady Wildcats a 13-7 lead out of a tie score and then, in the second quarter, Neosho scored the first 14 points for a 30-7 advantage.
“East Newton came out and had a very good first four minutes,” Berendt said. “They took it to us and I think our kids were a little … I don’t know if shocked is the right word but surprised. Kids read things and look at papers and know like what teams are doing. Coach (Rusty) McDermott had them prepared to start the game. We know these kids and any time there’s a rivalry game like that, I think you throw records out the window and it comes down to executing on the floor. After we called out a timeout to regroup, I think our kids did a good job of executing.”
Makayla Hayes led all scorers with 21 points, then Caitlyn Jordon scored 12, Allison Burr 10, Madison Flynn eight, and Emily Kivett five.
“We strung together some good possessions,” Berendt said. “Any time you can do that, it’s going to be a positive. I thought we set the tone of what we were going to be about. We went into half, felt good, and in the second half I wanted to work on some things defensively and changed things up. They came out in the second half and answered the bell against our new defense, and scored on three of the first four possessions. But I don’t think we gave up another field goal (after that) until the fourth quarter.”
The Lady Wildcats’ six seniors and juniors Madison Flynn and Gabee Rainwater have responded well their last two home games to adversity within games.
“It’s just motivating the kids and letting them know what they’re capable of,” Berendt said, “and what we’re not seeing that they’re showing in practice every day. Tonight, it wasn’t an effort thing, it was more execution of what we trying to do offensively and defensively. Against Providence in that third quarter, it was more of an effort thing. Both times, our kids have been veteran in the way they’ve handled it and responded.”
Kinsey Sorrell led East Newton with nine points, most of which she netted in the second half.
East Newton fell to 0-10 on the season and do not return to the courts until January 4 against Newton County rival Diamond.
Neosho (6-1), meanwhile, plays again December 28 in the Holiday Classic. Brackets were released on Tuesday.
“We are going to watch some film and reiterate some things that are important,” Berendt said. “I thought we shot free throws better tonight and we got there a lot, which is a positive for us. I think we fouled a little bit too much late and we don’t want to give teams opportunities to score with the clock stopped. We’re going to get back to work this week at the junior high and it’s the first time we’ve practiced there. We’re excited about that and we’re trying to improve on who we are.”
NEOSHO 56, EAST NEWTON 27
East Newton 7 4 7 9 — 27
Neosho 16 16 11 13 — 56
EAST NEWTON (0-10) — Kinsey Sorrell 9, Brynne Smith 6, Robin Hussong 5, Madison McDermott 4, Kaitlyn Hailey 3.
NEOSHO (6-1) — Makayla Hayes 21, Caitlyn Jordon 12, Allison Burr 10, Madison Flynn 8, Emilee Kivett 5.