Experience triumphed over inexperience Monday night when the Seneca Lady Indians defeated the Neosho Lady Wildcats 57-42 in a battle of Newton County schools.
The Lady Indians returned all five starters from last season, while the Lady Wildcats graduated all five starters and only returned one player (senior Madison Flynn) with significant varsity experience.
Seneca used a 24-4 run in the second half to build a 54-31 lead late in the contest. The Lady Indians scored 16 unanswered points, including the final 13 of the third quarter, and the Lady Wildcats endured nearly a quarter’s worth of game time without a single point.
The second half started promisingly for the home team, as Neosho sophomore guard Olivia Hixson knocked down back-to-back 3-point shots for a 30-27 score.
At the 5-minute, 28-second mark of the third, Seneca senior Jo Beard split a pair of free throws and that was the start of Seneca’s rebirth and Neosho’s demise.
You could tell things were going right for the Lady Indians after Kayla French banked in a 3-point shot. The Lady Indians hit a trio of trifectas during this run, and Taylor Mailes’ 3 early in the fourth wrapped up the 16-0 run and gave Seneca a 46-27 advantage.
The teams battled for the majority of the first half, but the Lady Indians took a big momentum swing when Chelsea Beville — off a drive and dish by Mailes — buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key at the halftime buzzer for a 28-21 halftime lead.
Mailes led all scorers with 20 points and Beard added 13 points, utilizing her height advantage. French tallied eight more points and Beville and Aliya Grotjohn each contributed six.
Neosho failed to take more advantage of the foul trouble Beard and fellow senior Sarah Hoover experienced during the first half.
Hixson went for a career-high 19 points, highlighted by six trifectas, and Brylee King finished with six on a night when Neosho struggled producing the points to keep up with the Lady Indians.
Both Neosho and Seneca return to action after Thanksgiving in the Carl Junction Classic, and both are in opposite pools.
Neosho (1-1) draws Nevada and McDonald County, while Seneca (1-0) faces host and defending tournament champion Carl Junction and Jasper.
SENECA 57, NEOSHO 42
Seneca 13 15 15 14 — 57
Neosho 10 11 6 15 — 42
SENECA (1-0) — Taylor Mailes 20, Jo Beard 13, Kayla French 8, Chelsea Beville 6, Aliya Grotjohn 6, Sarah Hoover 4.
NEOSHO (1-1) — Olivia Hixson 19, Brylee King 6, Michelle Lindsay 5, Madison Flynn 4, Maile Gindling 3, Mary Dunbar 2, Kristy Pace 2, Halley Merrell 1.