CREST RIDGE — The Battle of the Lady Greyhounds went Windsor’s way as the defending Class 2, District 14 girls basketball champions rallied to beat Sweet Springs 44-43 on Wednesday.
Windsor trailed 25-14 late in the second quarter before a Bailey Rollins steal and layup cut the lead to nine at the half.They then scored the first nine points of the third quarter to swing momentum its way, then held off a late Sweet Springs rally.
Windsor opened the third quarter with a Shelby Williams basket inside and following another steal by Rollins, Williams scored again and converted a 3-point play to make it 25-21 Sweet Springs.
“That was really big because it got us all pumped up and ready to go, ready to fight,” Williams said.
Williams scored six points in the first quarter, including a pair of baskets in the paint in the first two minutes of the game, but she was held scoreless in the second quarter. Windsor went back to her in the second half and she finished the game with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
“We started looking for it a little more,” said Windsor coach Brad Forrest. “We weren’t looking for it in the first half. We moved the ball better on offense plus our guards got a little more active. They kind of stood around in the first half.”
Windsor led by as many as six in the closing minutes before Megan Evans converted a 3-point play with 1:07 left in the game to make it 40-37. Windsor scored its final four points from the free throw line as Sweet Springs got free throws from Christina Higgins and Evans to make it 44-41 with 18 seconds left. Sweet Springs had one last chance to tie the game, missing a 3-pointer and hitting a putback with too little time on the clock to foul and get another possession.
Sweet Springs had to mount the comeback without the help of Nicole Bright, who fouled out in the fourth quarter.
“That’s a big loss for us,” said Sweet Springs coach Boyd Jones. “Certainly that affects our offensive capabilities with her sitting.”
As a team, Windsor shot 8 of 29 from the field in the first half before hitting 6 of 13 in the third quarter and 2 of 5 in the fourth.
“They really shot the ball well in that third quarter,” Jones said. “That really changed the whole momentum. I don’t know that we were doing anything different defensively, they were just hitting shots.”
Starting with the steal by Rollins to close the first half, Windsor outscored Sweet Springs 30-18.
“We’re definitely a second half team,” said Windsor guard Haley Crouch.
Crouch scored eight of her team’s 16 points in the first half and finished with 15.
“She struggled shooting the ball earlier this year but she shot the ball pretty well (Wednesday),” Forrest said.
Sweet Springs got 13 points from Higgins and nine more from Nicole Bright. As Sweet Springs jumped out to a 22-10 lead early in the second quarter, 12 of their points came in the low post.
“They just kept running girls in there and we were outsized a little bit,” Forrest said. “Once we got everything more solidified, we really shut them down.”
Sweet Springs scored on its first six possessions of the game, getting jumpers from Kati Viets and Nicole Bright, baskets in the paint from Higgins, Olivia Loges and Ashleigh Bright and a Loges free throw which made it 11-6.
“I thought we played very well the whole first half,” Jones said. “We did what we wanted to do defensively and worked the ball well offensively and made the shots. You couldn’t have asked for a whole lot better.”
As Sweet Springs got off to a good start, so did Windsor at first, getting baskets from Crouch and Williams early. But Windsor missed its next nine shots from the field and Sweet Springs kept scoring, taking a 13-6 lead before Williams ended the run with a basket in the paint.
“They were driving a lot more,” Crouch said. “We couldn’t really get our feet set and we let them go to the basket.”
Back-to-back baskets by Higgins extended the lead to 22-10 Sweet Springs before a pair of baskets by Crouch cut the lead to nine.
Windsor tied the game with a 9-0 run to open the third, capped off by a Jessica Neel 3-pointer, then took the lead on a basket by Williams to make it 29-28. Nicole Bright and Neel traded baskets and the game was tied 32-32 heading into the fourth.
A jumper by Crouch and a layup by Rollins gave Windsor a 37-32 early in the fourth as Sweet Springs turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions, a three-second call and steals by Williams and Neel.
Windsor will play in the Class 2, District 14 championship game at 6 p.m. Friday.