Smith-Cotton girls basketball withstood a second-half run to net its first win of the season Tuesday during a 46-38 victory against Father Tolton at the Marshall Tournament.
Lady Tigers senior Haley Wiskur led the team with 19 points and S-C finished 13-for-15 at the free-throw line. Smith-Cotton (1-2) competes for third place 4 p.m. Friday in Marshall.
“We needed this one,” said S-C girls basketball head coach Jessie Arnold. “They knew it, I knew it and it just feels good to get that first win of the season.”
Pressing after a make, the Lady Tigers briefly led 6-5 with points off of a turnover and sophomore Bailey Brown pulled S-C ahead 8-7 with a pair of free throws. Tolton landed a tie-breaking field goal with one minute remaining in the first period.
Wiskur opened the second quarter with two buckets, including the go-ahead score, forcing a Trailblazers timeout. Her drive with 1:35 to halftime increased her points total to 15 and the Lady Tigers led 30-22 at halftime.
Father Tolton outscored the Lady Tigers 9-4 to open the third period, and Arnold paused the run at the 3:42 mark. The Trailblazers cut the lead to one point before S-C senior Sophie Martin delivered back-to-back field goals.
After a season-opening loss in Marshall last week and starting the tournament Monday with a 54-48 loss Monday to Grain Valley, Arnold said she was pleased with S-C’s resolve in the face of a lead-threatening run.
“Everyone’s picking up what we’re doing really well,” Arnold said. “When they came back and made their run, we countered it right back on that next possession.”
Martin continued her streak into the fourth, pushing the lead to 40-35 with five minutes to play. She finished with 12 points.
Arnold said the Lady Tigers are growing into new styles on both sides of the ball, which led to an offensive drought in the second half.
“I would like to see more ball movement on offense,” Arnold said. “It’s a little bit of a new system for us, so obviously there are going to be some growing pains, a learning curve. But the times that we did that well, we got fantastic looks.”
Limiting the Trailblazers to five fourth-quarter points, Pannier assisted Wiskur on a breakaway layup to give the Lady Tigers a 44-38 lead with about one minute remaining in regulation. Father Tolton sophomore Sophia Elfrink, who had a game-high 20 points, scored seven in the second act.
“In the second half, we did a much better job of recognizing where their best player was and getting the ball out of her hands,” Arnold said.
Smith-Cotton 86, Capital City 46
Smith-Cotton got its dunks in Tuesday during an 86-46 victory over Capital City at the Marshall Tournament.
S-C seniors Kardell Sims and Christian Finley scored 19, Chris Staten-Ballance had 12 and junior Matt Thompson added 12 points as the lead ballooned to 40 in the second half.
But before the Tigers could land righteous jams, defensive effort jarred the ball loose.
“We got them out of what they wanted to do,” said Smith-Cotton boys basketball head coach Kevin Thomas. “That’s the recipe.”
The Cavaliers landed consecutive 3-pointers to lead 11-4 after opening tip. Smith-Cotton used a 14-2 run over the next five minutes — aided by a steal from senior Keith Hawkins and a slam from Thompson — and led 18-13 after the first period.
Sims fired a 3-pointer and recorded his third block minutes before halftime. Staten-Ballance turned a look from senior Brett Grupe into points to give the Tigers a 20-point lead. Smith-Cotton (2-1) led the Cavaliers 41-23 at the break.
Leading the block party and dunk contest, Thomas said Sims has been a sizable, do-it-all game-changer for Smith-Cotton.
“He can score outside, he can go to the basket and, defensively, he can guard 1-5,” Thomas said. “He has that size and athleticism that can do many things.”
Smith-Cotton seniors Christian Finley and Sims scored 19 and 14 points, respectively, Monday during a 61-55 loss to Kirksville at the Marshall Tournament. S-C senior Cameron Finley added eight points.
Before the tourney, the Tigers (2-1) started the season their first win at Jefferson City since 1995, though S-C picked up an overtime tournament win over the Jays in 2011.
Thomas said it required some effort to reference their last win at the capital. With a win against both Jefferson City programs in three games, he said there is reason for optimism in Sedalia — if the team keeps working.
“They were excited,” Thomas said of the season-opening win. “That’s why we coach. To see the guys put it some work, continue to work hard and to see it achieve something and win.”
Alex Agueros can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @abagueros2.