This Friday is going to be a hectic one for Mexico varsity sports and at the high school that starts with the varsity girls basketball team hosting Moberly to end the regular season.
If recent history is any indication, what Kirksville did to try and grab a North Central Missouri Conference victory at the Lady Bulldogs, 11-10 overalll, 6-3 NCMC, earlier this week was control the tempo and switch between zone and man-to-man defense depending on what works at the time. Even though the Lady Tigers zone defense was successful for limited lengths of time, the slow pace left them out of position inside and out of tempo at the free throw line.
"We're going to have to do better defensively, especially handling their outside guard play. We also have to be ready to match the energy that Moberly plays with in the post," said coach Ed Costley. "Defensively we have to do better defending the basketball and closing out. That'll be key for us. On offense we have to establish an inside game early and force them to honor it. That has to be going through the post and dribble, drive and penetrate. We can't be one-dimensional and sit on the outside."
Mexico's winning formula against Kirksville was multi-layered, but on the surface seemed to revolve around allowing Adria Costley to play the role of a true point guard. That means despite her true offensive prowess the Lady Bulldogs need her to distribute first and score second. If, in fact, she does continue to be this kind of a playmaker, individuals like Logan Blevins will continue to benefit just like they have all season.
"When Blevins gets to a spot where she can finish and come away with a foul, it keeps us balanced in a way that we need to be," Ed Costley said directly after the Kirksville game. "That's been key for us. Once we get the guards driving and penetrating, that's usually when things open up in the post."
Defensively one thing Mexico did well against Kirksville it'll try and duplicate against the Lady Spartans is that it forced them to shoot a much lower percentage from the floor in the second half. The Lady Tigers also missed their only free throw of the first half and blocked just one shot for the game, tricks of the trade Ed Costley would love to repeat if he can figure out how to work his magic on his home court for the second time in five days.
"We have to stay balanced by finding ways to attack the paint more than they do. That was the key (against Kirksville)," said Ed Costley. "In the second half we only had four turnovers, but we had 11 for the game. We have to stay under 14 turnovers on Friday to have a chance at making it a game."
The biggest problem with all of this is that, even though it's great to have the best of intentions, the last time these two teams met at Moberly the Lady Bulldogs got outscored 15-6 in the second quarter and 15-8 in the fourth on the way to losing 63-37. With Mexico also getting outscored in that game 16-13 in the first quarter and 17-10 in the third, not much went right that day.This includes connecting on just 13-of-41 field goal with 21 rebounds, one steals, nine assists and one block.
On the toher side of this scenario the Lady Spartans went 18-for-34 on two-pointers, 7-for-19 from three-point territory and 6-for-11 from the charity stripe. Moberly also pulled down 31 boards with nine steals.