The 2018-19 Missouri State High School Activities Association championship tournament will be here any day now like it or not, but between now and then the Mexico varsity girls basketball team is still going about the business of preparing themselves for that experience by closing out its league schedule.
On Monday, Presidents' Day, that meant going to Moberly for a North Central Missouri Conference contest where the hosts tried to set off a long range fireworks display that instead fell incredibly short when it went just 5-for-22 from that distance. The one caveat to the Lady Bulldogs holding the Lady Spartans to a 12-for-51 shooting performance was that they also hit just 13 of their 45 shots, but, sometimes, in a game this close all it takes to make a difference is the performance of just one player.
Then along came Mexico's Logan Blevins to hit 6-of-8 free throws to score 12 with six rebounds, two blocks and a steal. That meant, after getting outscored 8-5 in the first quarter and going into halftime down 19-17, the Lady Bulldogs were able to come back and claim the third quarter 9-4 to finally take a 26-23 lead before also outworking the Lady Spartans in the fourth 11-10 to earn themselves a 37-33 NCMC victory.
"Typical physical Moberly and Mexico matchup. Some some tough nose moments through out. Another gritty road win for the girls. We played through some tough spells in first half," said coach Ed Costley. "In the third, Logan Blevins and Shelbi Shaw really did some work in the paint. Moberly was extending hard keeping Raigan Playter and Reghan Smith in check and they made some great moves down low."
No leading actor can play their part without a supporting cast, and for Mexico that included Playter with eight points, four rebounds and one block and Mya Miller and Rachel Kristofferson also helped get things from where they were at to where the needed to be with three points each. Shelbi Shaw pulled down 10 rebounds and Taylor DeMint added two points, as well.
"We took the lead in 3rd with a Rohan Smith runner down the lane. Taylor Demint then followed with a layup in closing seconds to give us 26-23 lead to end third," Costley said. "We were down 28-29 with less than three minutes to go and Reghan Smith hit a big three to give us the lead. Moberly tied it up 33 all. Raigan Playter hit a transition pull-up that would end up giving us the lead the remainder of game. Shelbi and Logan hit big free throws to close out game in end each going two for two."
Overall the Lady Bulldogs charted 32 rebounds, six assists, three steals and three blocks. The squad also connected on 4-of-11 three-point attempts and went 10-for-13 from the charity stripe.
Mexico, 9-11 overall, 5-3 NCMC, hosted Hannibal Tuesday and welcomes Fulton Friday, both of which are league games.