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Pirate girls ready for district

by Kim Fickett
Landmark editor

The Lady Pirates had a full schedule of MEC Conference games this week with a makeup game on Wednesday against undefeated Savannah.

We started off Monday with a loss to Smithville, but played well losing by seven points only being outscored by the Warriors by one point in the second half. We played pretty much an even game most of the way. Smithville's Crystal Holbrook was a big 6'3" difference inside as she posted up and hit from various places in and around the lane. We tried to keep the ball away from her but she moves well without the ball and gets into good position. She had a game high 19 points. While Tara Porter, the Lady Pirate point guard did some damage herself with 18 points no other significant points from anyone else and just fell short offensively. Again our shooting percentage was a low 23 percent.

We did a good job on defense containing the outside shooting and three point shots of their guards. We certainly had the opportunity to score and missed some easy shots both inside and outside.

Defensively we matched up with their speed and pressed and broke their press effectively. Megan Nichols pulled down 10 rebounds and Cassie Philipe had nine. Tara Porter had seven steals and we forced several turnovers with our defense. Except for a cold shooting night we played a good game and challenged a strong team.

Wednesday night the Lady Pirates hosted Savannah, undefeated in conference and placing second in state the last three years. We were ready for the challenge and played a great game, taking a 8-0 lead and forcing a Savage time out. We were hitting the boards and getting some fast breaks. Nichols, Praiswater, and Philipe all scored in the first quarter to give us a good run. Savannah came roaring back with the inside seven points from 6'3" all conference, all district post Nikki Garner. She was really tough to stop-big and physical and deadly in the paint. We held on to a 12-11 first quarter lead. Senior guard Angela Campbell picked up six more points inside to give Savannah momentum and a ten lead going into the half 33-22.

It was so hard to stop their outside perimeter shooters and still double team the big post. We needed a good third quarter but the shots wouldn't fall and we got farther behind. Savannah had a 48-22 lead at the end of the third quarter and thought they were out of reach, but we pressed and picked up the pace and found ourselves back within six points forcing another Savannah time out. I knew with just a few minutes left they would stall and force us to foul. We still out scored them 19-12 in the fourth quarter but it wasn't enough and the Savages remained undefeated in the MEC with a 60-49 win. We played a hard, physical game and gave them everything they wanted-taking a lead and making a great comeback in the fourth. I was really proud of the way we played against a very tough opponent.

Megan Nichols had 10 points followed by Philipi and A. Praiswater with 11 each. Philipi pulled down 11 rebounds and Praiswater six. Freshman Kathryn McGee had five points and four steals and played a great defensive game. Sophomore Brandie Scott was all over the court with great hustle and cracked heads with a Savannah girl towards the end of the fourth. Brandie suffered a mild concussion and had to sit out the Benton game the following night. Hopefully we'll have her back for Monday's district repeat game with Benton. We played well but again couldn't get that shooting percentage above 25 percent-way too low to pull off a big win over a good opponent. We did hit 17/25 from the line hitting 68 percent. Sophomore post Stevie Grabau came off the bench with a much needed eight points and kept us alive and in the hunt. Stevie has height and potential and will definitely be making a difference in the next two years.

The Lady Pirates closed out the regular season with back-to-back games having to play Benton away following the physical Savannah conference game.

After defeating Benton in the Kearney Tourney the Cardinals were a little better prepared for our aggressive press and defense. They also had a great shooting night hitting 40 percent from the field and 70 percent from the line. We hit a low 25 percent from the field, but hit 83 percent from the line. I wish they would have called a few more fouls-we were hot from the line. Benton jumped out to a 10-4 lead as the Lady Pirates felt like there was a lid on the goal at their end of the gym.

Second quarter wasn't much better for the Pirates as they still struggled offensively finding the basket. Defensively we held Benton to only 38 points stopping the guards and two of their dominated scorers. Two of their guards picked up 11 points each for high honors, while we held the posts to seven points.

It was a very physical game and we were sluggish from the Monday game with Smithville and the night before with Savannah. We just didn't have the speed and hustle we usually have and it showed up both on the offensive and defensive end of the court. Benton defeated us 38-25. We look forward to the district Monday night re-match with them and this time we will be more rested and will hopefully have Brandie Scott back in the lineup.

Senior captain Morgan Nichols led the Pirates in points with eight and rebounds with nine followed by six points from Philipi and seven rebounds from both Philipi and Grabau.