Lady Tigers knock off Liberal in tournament play

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

CARL JUNCTION, Mo. -- The fifth place matchup at the St. Johns Sports Care Classic tournament came as a surprise to nearly everyone in attendance as the Liberal Lady Bulldogs got set to square off against the Nevada Lady Tigers Saturday afternoon.

The Lady Bulldogs came into the game riding a substantial high from their 51-39 upset of the East Newton Lady Patriots Thursday night. The Lady Tigers came into the day with a substantial amount of momentum of their own as they defeated Lamar by a final score of 55-21 in their consolation bracket game Thursday night.

That momentum swing that the Lady Bulldogs got from their major upset victory proved to be not quite enough as the Lady Tigers cruised their way to a 59-32 win to take fifth place in the tournament. "It was just a great team effort," Lady Tigers head coach Brent Bartlett said. "I told our team, it was effort and defense that won the ballgame for us."

Head coach Brandi Goodell's Lady Bulldogs struggled right from the outset in Saturday's game as they were simply unable to combat the depth and athleticism that the Lady Tigers brought to the table. Despite those struggles, however, the Lady Bulldogs were able to stay within striking distance as they found themselves heading into the second quarter down by just six at 19-13.

"That's a good basketball team," Bartlett said of the Lady Bulldogs. "She (Goodell) thinks they're going to win a lot of games and I do, too."

That all began to change quickly in the second quarter as the Lady Tigers outscored Liberal 16-6 to extend their lead to 35-19 at the half. Both teams shot nearly the same percentage in the second half as Liberal converted on eight of 20 shots from the field while the Lady Tigers hit 13 of 31 attempts, but Nevada took advantage of six of their seven 3-pointers in the game's first 16 minutes to open up the contest.

The Lady Bulldogs were never really able to recover from that point on in the contest as their lack of depth began to show. The Lady Tigers quickly took full advantage of those struggles, extending their lead almost continuously throughout the second half on their way to a 59-32 victory.

Nearly every player who got onto the court for the Lady Tigers in the contest was able to get in on the scoring as nine players had at least two points on the day. Sophomore Tiffani Long led the offensive effort with 15 points as she shot a strong 6-for-10 from the field and 3-for-3 from the free-throw line while sophomore Megan Harper broke into double figures as well with 10, shooting 2-for-6 from the field and 4-for-4 from the stripe.

"When you rotate this many girls in and out that are athletic and can put the ball in the basket, you're going to be hard to guard. I think you're going to see that from us all year long," Bartlett said. "You're going to see nine people scoring, 10 people scoring every basketball game."

For Liberal, Kristin Peterson led the offensive effort as she finished the game as the only Lady Bulldog in double figures with 11 points. As a team, the Lady Tigers shot 38.6 percent from the field in the contest and 70.6 percent from the stripe while Liberal went 33 percent (12-for-36) from the field and 39 percent (7-for-18) from the line.

In other action from the tournament's final day, the Webb City Lady Cardinals defeated the Seneca Lady Indians by a final score of 62-46 to take the tournament championship while the Lady Tigers of Carthage beat the Carl Junction Lady Bulldogs, 49-41 for third place place and East Newton rolled over the Lady Tigers of Lamar by a final score of 70-39 to take seventh place.

With that win, the Lady Tigers improved their overall record to 2-1 on the year and are now set to head back out on the road tonight for a rematch of the tournament opener on Nov. 30 against Carl Junction at 6 p.m. In the first meeting between the two teams, Carl Junction earned a hard-fought victory by a final score of 50-46 in a very close contest.

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