Walker, Mo. -- The Northeast Vernon County Lady Knights held off a late rally by Bronaugh's basketball girls to capture a 44-40 victory Thursday night.
The Knights had built a 13-point lead by the end of the third quarter before the visitors closed to 6 in the first two minutes of the final frame.
NEVC again pulled out to a double-digit lead before again, the Lady Wildcats closed to 6 with two minutes remaining. Four missed shots over the next minute, including one that rimmed in and then out, kept Bronaugh from closing any more than the final margin.
Junior post Camille Buttorff proved a key difference for the hosts, finishing with 18 points, getting 13 of those in the first half, primarily on offensive putbacks. Five other players for the Lady Knights scored.
Heather Baker, who posted 8 of her 10 points in the second half, paced Bronaugh. Lady Wildcats Sierra Arens and Breanna Householder also got 9 each.
Both teams had trouble warming up on the cold, blustery night, going nearly two minutes before Arens converted a pair of free throws to open the scoring.
The visitors didn't score again though, until a follow shot by Lora Shaw at the 3:52 mark.
In between, NEVC ran off 12 points, with Buttorff getting half of those. She scored the final four points of the period, including a putback with just under six seconds left for a 12-4 difference at the break.
For the first four minutes of the second quarter, the teams swapped baskets and turnovers before NEVC scored twice unanswered, behind a follow from Buttorff and a jumper from Chance Messier, the latter producing a 19-10 difference with 2:12 showing.
Bronaugh closed to 21-14 at the half behind free throws from Susie Hartman and Arens.
The Lady Knights managed the first four points of the second half, all by Ryann Ford, for a 25-14 edge with three minutes gone.
Bronaugh's Baker connected at 2:44 for a 28-18 score but NEVC ran off five straight points, with Shelby Wilkins' free throw making it 33-18.
Breanna Householder closed the Lady Wildcats to 35-22 two seconds before the buzzer.
The visitors kept the momentum and got within six by scoring the first seven points of the fourth, with Baker scoring off a steal at the 6:20 mark.
The hosts got eight of the next 10 points though, getting second and third shots and scoring off a steal, pushing the advantage back to 44-31 with 4:42 remaining.
The Lady Knights though, went cold at that point and didn't score again, making six turnovers during that time and losing Shelby Wilkins and Ryann Ford on fouls.
The Lady Wildcats finished with nine points during that stretch. But five missed shots, including another that rimmed in and out, kept them from pulling even. Arens' two free throws with 29 seconds left finished the scoring.
Backing Buttorff for Northeast Vernon County were Ryann Ford with 8 points, Shelby Watkins and Payton Hays with 4, and Chance Messier with 2.
Behind Baker, Arens and Householder were Amanda Raper with 5, Susie Hartman with 3 and Cydnee Piper with 2.