Nevada Daily Mail
"It was a grind all night long. Our defense, thank goodness, showed up." Nevada Lady Tigers head basketball coach Brent Bartlett needed all the help he could get from his defense as the Lady Tigers couldn't seem to get much going on the offensive end in Thursday night's matchup against the Lady Cardinals of Clinton at Wynn Gymnasium.
"I'm proud of our girls," Bartlett said. "They just kept playing hard."
The Lady Tigers came into the night with a lot of uncertainty on their minds after Mikayla Bartlett was shown recently to have fractured her tibia for the second time, delaying her return from the knee injury that knocked her out of the lineup last year. On top of that, in Nevada's last home game against Warrensburg, sophomore post player Rilie Good went down with the second sprain she has suffered of the same ankle this season.
Good, however, made the start for Nevada Thursday night and finished with nine points, 13 rebounds, four blocks and a steal, despite continued swelling in her ankle. "She said, 'It hasn't hurt, coach.' That's what she's telling me," Bartlett said of Good's bad ankle.
Good wasn't the only one who gave Bartlett a lot of things about which he could look back and be happy. Several players including Victoria Culbertson, Michaela Brewer, Nikiya Feezell, Mackenzie Pritchett and Kelsey McCall all stepped up and contributed in various ways as well.
"Victoria Culbertson gave us great minutes. Michaela Brewer had to come in and gave us some good minutes, Nikiya Feezell," Bartlett said. "I mean, just, people came in and gave us some good minutes and played well. Of course, Mackenzie and Kelsey are playing well."
Along with Pritchett and McCall, Morgan McNeley has stepped up in an attempt to fill the injured Bartlett's shoes as well. She didn't quite live up to the standards she has set throughout the early portion of the season, but her coach was still pleased.
"Morgan is consistent," Bartlett said of the 5-foot-6-inch sophomore. "I don't think she was quite as aggressive offensively as we want her to be, but it was just a grind and I'm very proud of the girls to pull it out."
No one on the Lady Tigers' offense was being nearly as aggressive in the first half as Bartlett would have liked and their production reflected that fact. The Lady Tigers simply never really found their rhythm and ultimately only put up 17 points to take a 17-10 lead into the locker room at halftime.
"We missed, I'm anticipating 16 good shots in the first half, the shots we want people taking," Bartlett said. "We just struggled getting the ball in the hole."
In total, the Lady Tigers missed 17 of their 25 field goals in the first half and finished shooting just 32 percent. Things were even worse for Clinton, however, as the Lady Cardinals finished the half shooting 23.5 percent.
Things got much better for Nevada in the second half as Bartlett's squad was finally able to develop a bit of a rhythm and opened up the game in the fourth quarter.
"I thought, the start of the fourth quarter, our half-court trap really gave us a boost," Bartlett said. "It created some easier shots for us, created some turnovers."
That "boost" was exactly what the Lady Tigers needed after tying Clinton, 8-8, in the third quarter. The Lady Tigers took full advantage and ultimately won the fourth quarter, 18-8, to take the game by a final score of 44-29.
"It wasn't pretty, but it was a win and we'll take it," Bartlett said. "We played a very well-coached team that had a lot of varsity experience back from a year ago."
Tori Dahmer led the offensive effort for Nevada as the only player in double figures with 14 points on the night. For Clinton, it was easy to see who the stars of the offense were as Laurel Dehn finished with 15 points, Riley Cook had 10 and no other player on the roster had more than two on the night.
At the free-throw line, the Lady Tigers struggled as they have on many occasions this year, missing nearly half of their attempts. The Lady Tigers finished the night 11-for-18 (61 percent) from the stripe, while Clinton made seven of 11 charity tosses.
The Lady Tigers' junior varsity squad was also in action on the night, but was unable to complete the sweep, falling to Clinton by a final score of 39-36.
With the win, the Lady Tigers improved to 4-3 on the season and are scheduled to be back in action on Dec. 17, when they take on Drexel in the opening round of the Harrisonville Holiday Tournament. that game is scheduled to tip off at 5 p.m., in the auxilliary gym at Harrisonville High School.