Lady Owls succumb to Prep press

Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Sophomore Jaidyn Townsend (14) is fouled while trying to finish a fast break for the Lady Owls during a comeback attempt early in the fourth quarter. (Chris Allen/Democrat-News)

BLUE SPRINGS -- The Marshall girls' basketball team used stingy defense to ride into the playoffs for the first time in 10 years.

However, the Lady Owls were hoisted on their own petard Tuesday during the MSHSAA Class 4 Sectional at Blue Springs, where Lincoln Prep of Kansas City scored seven more points against them than any opponent has this season during a 78-59 victory.

"We struggled with their pressure," admitted Marshall head coach Paul Alberson, whose team committed 33 turnovers -- nine in backcourt -- for 29 points. "We knew ... that's what they were going to bring. We just didn't handle it well at times."

With senior Taylor Crawford hitting a pair of jumpers, the second from long range, the Lady Owls got off to a 9-2 start before the press forced back-to-back turnovers to begin a 10-0 run. Sophomore Mykah Doolin's bomb at the four-minute mark gave the Lady Tigers the lead for the first time, and they wouldn't trail again.

Marshall pulled even on sophomore Jaidyn Townsend's put-back before sophomore Ajanee Bradley came up with a steal for a transition bucket. The Lady Owls began breaking the press more effectively during the second period, but made only four of 13 shots from the field and two of eight free-throw attempts.

"When we got set up in our offense, we got some good looks," Alberson said. "We just didn't finish well enough to win a ball game."

Lincoln Prep turned a one-point margin into a 10-point one with a quick flurry of bombs -- two by Bradley and another from sophomore Amari Conn -- and maintained that spread into halftime. It could have been worse, but eight points off the bench from freshman Sky Walton and the Lady Tigers' 6-of-19 performance from the stripe kept Marshall in contention.

Ahead by 13 points three minutes into the second half, Lincoln Prep got three treys from junior Brionna Budgetts and another from Bradley during a 13-4 run over two minutes.

"They shot a lot better than ... we had seen," Alberson said, notably the Lady Tigers' 10-of-21 showing from outside the arc. "We had never seen them hit outside shots like that. We wanted to make them beat us from outside, and sure enough they did."

The Lady Owls tried to fight back, ending the third quarter with eight points in a row. Junior Kassidy Heying hit her second three of the half and fed Townsend for a lay-up that pulled them to within 12 points with 6:30 left in the game. But then Marshall came up empty on six straight possessions and, while the Lady Tigers didn't go on a binge, two valuable minutes needed to catch up were squandered.

Although the Lady Owls scored nine points on four of their next five possessions, Lincoln Prep kept answering -- getting points on 10 of the 14 times it had the ball over the final four-and-a-half minutes to widen the lead down the stretch.

Budgetts had 24 points, freshman Chorus Davis tallied 21 and Bradley and junior Mikayla Deshazer each contributed 11 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for the Lady Tigers (21-3) - who play Kearney in the quarterfinal round Saturday at Independence.

Marshall was topped by Heying's 14 points, with Crawford and Walton both producing 12 points and senior Lyssa Agcalon added 11. Although the Lady Owls (18-9) didn't match the 20 wins they had a year ago, they posted winning records in successive seasons for the first time since doing so three years' running from 2005-06 to '08 -- and they lose only two senior starters, with a core of promising underclassmen waiting in the wings.

"They had some good leaders to learn from and they should be ready to step right in next year," Alberson declared. "A lot of that is attributed to that senior class. They're leaving a good legacy behind."

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