Nevada Daily Mail
It's not very often a coach can watch his or her team put up just one point in a period, finish a game shooting just 28 percent, record more turnovers than made field goals and still come out with a win. The Nevada Lady Tigers varsity basketball team did just that as head coach Brent Bartlett's squad fought its way to a 32-29 win over Bolivar at Wynn Gymnasium Monday night.
"It was a great win for our team," Bartlett said. "This team just won the Lebanon Tournament, Dec. 29.They were 8-2, now they're 8-3."
It wasn't much of a surprise to anyone that Monday night's game wasn't pretty. In fact, that was to be expected since the Lady Tigers hadn't seen any real game action since Dec. 19, when they beat the Celtics of O'Hara High School to take third place in the Harrisonville Holiday Tournament.
In that contest, the Lady Tigers came out firing on all cylinders and won the game by more points than the Celtics scored. That was certainly not the case in the Lady Tigers' return to Wynn Gymnasium, however, as Bartlett's squad finished the night just 11-for-39 from the field with 14 turnovers and 32 total points.
"Our defense and rebounding won the game because our offense was not pretty all night, but give Bolivar credit," Bartlett said. "They were physical inside, they switched screens, they switched defenses. I'm awful proud of our girls."
Things didn't look good for Nevada right from the start as the Lady Liberators scored the game's first seven points and the only scoring for Nevada came on a Rilie Good free throw, giving Bolivar a 9-1 lead heading into the second quarter. Things got a little better from there for the Lady Tigers as they won the second quarter, 8-4, but Bolivar still held a 13-9 lead at halftime.
Bolivar shot just 26 percent in the opening half, but that was still 10 percentage points better than Nevada, which finished the game's first 16 minutes shooting just under 17 percent. "A lot of it was their defense and how they were confusing us in the first half," Bartlett said.
To make matters even worse, the Lady Tigers were still playing without last year's leading scorer, Mikayla Bartlett. Bartlett has been sidelined since injuring her knee in last year's district tournament.
A number of complications and setbacks have mired her recovery efforts and it appears as though the final nail has been driven into the coffin in that process as a stress fracture in Bartlett's tibia isn't healing. Though the elder Bartlett was reluctant to rule her return out completely, the prognosis doesn't look good.
"I don't know if we can say officially, but pretty much," he said. "I mean, I don't want to tell you for sure and then, all of a sudden, she's stronger at the end of February."
Switching up defenses and using what has always been historically known as a very tough full-court press worked extraordinarily well in the opening half, so Bolivar head coach Darin Archer kept right at it in the second half, but that was where things changed. The Lady Tigers finally started to find the holes in Bolivar's press as the game wore on, ultimately allowing them to take the lead for good with a 3-pointer by Morgan McNeley that broke a 25-all tie.
"Finally, some shots started falling in the second half," Bartlett said. "When you're off three and a half weeks, your offense is going to be a little rusty. But I thought our defense and I thought our conditioning level was good."
That high level of conditioning was tested more than it has been all year long as a number of players got much more time on the court than they ordinarily would. Most notable of those players was senior Tori Dahmer, who never left the floor for the game's entire 32-minute duration.
That lack of rest may not have been what Dahmer or her coach would have wanted under ideal circumstances, but it proved to be exactly what the Lady Tigers needed. Dahmer's size and athleticism proved to be the most effective answer the Lady Tigers had for the Bolivar press on a number of occasions down the stretch.
The Lady Liberators had a chance to pull out the victory late when Peyton Peavey went to the free-throw line with 8 seconds to go as a result of senior Mackenzie Pritchett's fifth foul. Peavey had a chance to tie the game at 30 with a make on the front end of the 1-and-1 and potentially give her squad the lead if she made the second shot, but neither ended up happening.
Morgan McNeley closed out the game for the Lady Tigers when she made both free throws on the ensuing trip down the floor, handing the Lady Liberators a 32-29 loss.
McNeley finished the night as the Lady Tigers' leading scorer as she finished with 13 points. Of the five shots the Lady Tigers blocked in the contest, Dahmer swatted three.
With the win, the Lady Tigers improved to 7-4 on the year and are scheduled to be back in action on Friday, Jan. 11, when they head back out on the road to take on Webb City.