Losing by the largest deficit of the season Monday, the Lady Tigers faltered in their return to the Jungle with a 57-44 final against former West Central Conference opponent, Clinton.
Lady Tigers senior Haley Wiskur led all scorers with 22 points and sophomore Kiser Pannier added nine Tuesday at Smith-Cotton High School.
Clinton junior Maddy Allard scored 14 of her 20 points before halftime. S-C head coach Jessie Arnold said the Lady Tigers struggled against Clinton’s top scorer early.
“We were step slow today,” Arnold said. “And it showed in our rotations.”
Back-to-back Pannier 3-pointers represented the first S-C points, the latter basket tying the game four minutes into the contest. Wiskur scored the go-ahead points with a left-handed drive.
Before the first-period horn, S-C senior Taylor Ditzfeld lifted a go-ahead layup and Clinton junior Olivia Kiely landed a last-second 3-pointer to make it 13-12, Clinton.
Despite two S-C chances to pull ahead, Clinton escaped the second period with a 24-23 halftime lead.
In the third, Clinton pushed the lead to 10 points at the charity stripe before Wiskur ended the 9-0 run from beyond the arc.
The Lady Tigers trailed by more than 10 and Brown recorded her fourth personal foul en route to a 40-34 standing through three quarters.
Free throws accounted for 22 of Clinton’s points, while Smith-Cotton shot 7-for-13 at the line.
Wiskur pulled the Lady Tigers within three points from beyond the arc with 4 minutes, 20 seconds to play. Brown fouled out with 2:50 seconds remaining in regulation, and Clinton led 52-42 after free throws.
Previously, a 56-23 loss to Jefferson City suffered Jan. 7 served as the season nadir. But the Lady Tigers have always gotten even. Not counting the season-opener, the Lady Tigers have entered six games with as many wins as losses.
However, finishing with 10 or more wins and a .500 winning percentage would mark the first Lady Tigers campaign to do so since 2012.
Arnold said that’s the goal.
“That’s definitely been in the back of our minds, Arnold said. “To do something that hasn’t been done in 10 about years or so.”
Smith-Cotton continues Thursday at home against Bolivar.
Alex Agueros can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @abagueros2.