Strafford girls win fourth consecutive Lady Cat Classic title

By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

ROGERSVILLE – Soccer is often referred to as “the beautiful game.”

But, if you ask Strafford girls’ basketball coach Dustin Larsen, his Lady Indians played a beautiful game of basketball as they claimed their fourth-straight Lady Cat Classic title with a 72-45 victory over Willard on Friday night.

Strafford, which improved to 15-2, jumped out in front in a hurry, outscoring Willard 27-5 in the first quarter with unselfish play, great ball movement and pressure defense.

The Lady Indians closed out the first quarter on a 13-0 run and had five players score in the quarter.

“That’s what makes a team a team,” Larsen said. “When you’ve got five working out there as one, it’s such a pretty game. When the ball’s moving and defensively, you’re working together, I thought these girls played a beautiful game tonight.

“I’m so proud of our young ladies. The way they set the tone from the tip, you could just tell that they were focused in to come and really work as one and accomplish a goal of ours. They really showed tonight as a team, just a complete team effort, and I couldn’t be more proud.”

With a comfortable lead, Larsen was able to get quality minutes from his bench, as early as the second quarter, and keep his team’s legs fresh throughout the game.

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF THE GAME

“We’ve got a big week coming up and we’re going to need an opportunity to get all of our girls in there to get in there and work,” Larsen said. “They did a good job of coming in and continuing to play hard and play the right way. I thought they did a really good job as a complete team.”

After falling behind big in the first quarter, and then trailing 37-14 at halftime, Willard (10-6) had too big of a hole to dig out of.

“Credit to (Strafford). They came out and jumped on us early and we were not able to match their intensity and physicality early,” Willard coach JJ Adamson said. “They got out to a big lead and that’s kind of where it lasted.”

The Lady Tigers battled back with 31 second-half points, but Strafford’s lead was too big to overcome.

“I was very proud of our kids and how they responded,” Adamson said. “Strafford is a very physical ball club and that was pretty evident in the early going. I thought our kids finally responded and stepped up and did a great job fighting the rest of the ballgame. We just weren’t able to get enough stops and enough scores to make a real difference.”

Willard still is without 6-foot-1 senior post Kaitlyn Burson, who has been dealing with a leg injury since around the Pink and White Lady Classic.

“We’re just trying to work to get her healthy again,” Adamson said. “There’s no timetable for her return. We’re just trying to make sure that she gets healthy because she’s going to be a track athlete collegiately and we don’t want her to be hampered in any way.

“She’s a special young lady. She’s a great leader for us and still continues to try to be, and that’s a testament to who she is as a person.”

Logan Jones, who led all scorers with 21 points (all in the first three quarters), has been part of Strafford’s streak of four-straight Lady Cat Classic titles.

“It means the world,” Jones said. “These girls are like sisters to me. We had a pre-game talk, talking about having to come out here and getting up on defense , because defense was the key tonight – getting up on D led to good offense.”

Up next for the Lady Indians will be a road trip to Willow Springs on Monday, before hosting Licking on Tuesday. But, there is one date that they have circled on their calendar – Thursday, Jan. 30 – a rematch with Republic, which snapped Strafford’s winning streak at 123 games during the White Division quarterfinals on Dec. 27.

“That’s the game of the week,” Jones said. “I’m really excited and this next week is really going to be important in practice. So, we’re really excited for that game.”

Lady Cat Classic
Championship
STRAFFORD 72, WILLARD 45
WILLARD 5-9-12-19—45
STRAFFORD 27-10-18-17—72
WILLARD (10-6) – Ariana Patillo 8, Jada Holloman 11, Megan Mahan 10, Addalyn Adamson 8, Brielle Adamson 2, Madison Mills 4, Taylor Kuchta 2.
STRAFFORD (15-2) – Emma Compton 8, Taylor Dormann 12, Mica Chadwell 11, Logan Jones 21, Taylor Treat 1, Emma Mullings 5, Mattie Walker 10, Hannah Hess 4.

Third place – Sparta 60, Rogersville 57
Fifth place – Marshfield 52, Central 41
All-Tournament Team – Makaiya Brooks, Central; Kori Cromer, Marshfield; Sophia Nixon, Logan-Rogersville; Shelby McMurry, Sparta; Laney Humble, Sparta; Brielle Adamson, Willard; Megan Mahan, Willard; Taylor Dormann, Strafford; Emma Compton, Strafford; Logan Jones, Strafford.