No. 6 Mexico spanks Lady Owls
The energy, emotion and enthusiasm the Marshall girls' basketball team demonstrated last week in winning the Grain Valley Tournament title was missing Thursday.
The big question is, "Why?" After all, the Lady Owls had a golden opportunity to hand Mexico -- ranked sixth in Class 4 -- its first NCMC loss of the season and earn respect in the process. Instead, the Lady Bulldogs had little trouble securing a 52-35 win at Marshall.
"It's disappointing when you play a big game like this and you don't play any better than that," conceded Lady Owls head coach Jeff Martin. "It's really disheartening."
It didn't take a full quarter for Mexico to build a 10-point lead, but it wasn't Marshall's defense which was faltering as much as it was an offense seemingly befuddled by the Lady 'Dogs' assertiveness.
"We weren't running things crisply. We were very tentative," Martin said. "We got to the free-throw line, but we didn't hit many of those."
The Lady Owls finally made a big shot, a second-chance three-pointer by senior Hannah Heuman, to cut the deficit to eight points -- where it remained at the end of the half because sophomore Paige Fifer came up with a pair of steals and two free throws.
"We felt pretty good at halftime," Martin said. "We thought that if we'd get a little more aggressive on the offensive end, attack a little more, we'd get things done."
It looked like that would happen when senior Jordan Gorrell bombed to start the third period. However, while Marshall's offense picked up, the defense sagged. Senior Whitney Widaman converted two stick-backs, junior Stephanie Schutte powered in a shot from the low blocks and senior Rachel Baker finished a baseline drive to bump Mexico's lead to 12 points.
"We didn't do a good job of keeping our heads in it" on defense, Martin admitted. "It's something we've still got to work on."
The Lady Owls still had a couple of bullets left. Junior Linzi Bledsoe pulled up at the elbow for a jumper after a steal and Gorrell struck from outside again to close the gap to 29-23 with 2:20 left in the period. Widaman and junior Robyn Baker answered with threes, and when Widaman hit from long range to close the frame, Mexico led by 13.
That was the game, Marshall coming up dry from the floor until Gorrell buried a trey at the final horn.
"We got our nose down when things didn't go good," Martin said. "We showed our age a little bit."
Widaman scored 15 points and Rachel Baker added 13 points, nine rebounds and six steals for the Lady Dawgs (16-6, 7-0).
Gorrell had 12 points on three-of-five shooting from outside, a hopeful sign, and junior Courtney Henley collected 13 boards to pace the Lady Owls (10-9, 3-3) -- who host Hannibal Saturday.
"A fair amount of the time we played scared," Martin declared. "We're a better basketball team than that.
"We just felt too much pressure."