The Lady Bulldogs overcame its sense of impatience thrust upon them by a young Capital City High School team Thursday with the use of a trap defense that led to 20 unanswered points before the first half ended. The Mexico varsity girls carried on to win 38-22 before their home fans at Gary Filbert Court.
“They did a real good job on us in the first quarter as they set the tone of play they wanted with their offense. Capital City was very patient in their play and rotated the ball quite a bit as they were patient to find the best shot to take,” Mexico girls coach Ed Costley said. “We became very impatient. The pace of the game they were playing was not best for us because we don't like that slow of a pace, and it showed.”
Sophomore Mya Miller paced the Mexico girls (13-5) with 12 points scored and senior Logan Blevins tossed in 11.
Capital City, which opened this school year in Jefferson City and currently enrolls only freshmen and sophomores, gave Mexico problems by dictating the pace of play for much of the first half.
The Cavalier girls would execute pass after pass, after pass,before attempting a shot. Capital City led 11-7 with about 90-seconds remaining when coach Costley had seen enough. He wanted to shake things up.
“We went to a zone defense and went after them. Our traps were effective and pressured them in the half-court set. This created some energy that our team was needing, and it fueled a nice scoring run to close out the half,” Lady Bulldogs coach Costley said. “But that energy level just wasn't there for us in the second half for us to simply pull away from them. There were a few times it looked like we were about to get over the hump but missed some easy layups. Credit goes to (Capital City) for controlling the game tempo against us.”
Mexico returned to the floor executing a trap defense that paid dividends.
The Lady Bulldogs scored the last four points of the first quarter, including Logan Blevins score off the glass from the left block as the buzzer sounded to cut the deficit to 12-11.
A feed from Mya Miller to Rachel Kristofferson allowing the 5'8 senior to knock down an open three with 6:16 left in the second period handed Mexico its first lead of the evening at 14-12, and the Bulldogs never looked back.
Mexico was successful in trapping Capital City ball handlers near mid-court, forcing several turnovers and mishaps that led to transition scores.
Reghan Smith shined in the Mexico spotlight often from this defensive scheme. The 5'7 point guard deflected passes and came away with three steals, and Smith was directly involved in five consecutive Capital City turnovers that led to Bulldog points during Mexico's 20-0 run.
“We started out playing a man defense and we were too slow and hesitant off their dribble in the first quarter. Coach had us switch to a 2-3 zone, and after that we started trapping people to get the steals we were wanting from them. We put a string of scores together and got the game's momentum,” Smith said. “My teammates did a real good job establishing the traps and I was able to read where their play was trying to pass the ball. The trapping gave them only one option, or outlet to pass the ball and I found that to come away with some steals. I was able to be at the right place and finish the job that was started.”
Smith scored layups twice and made an assist on three occasions. Her score in transition with 1:44 remaining capped Mexico's spurt and extended the lead to 27-12.
Smith finished the outing with nine points. Rachel Kristofferson and Abby Oetting each made a 3-point shot, while Riley Thurman made one free throw to help the cause.
“Reghan is the one that got us going on that run with her defense. She got two to three steals and some ball deflections that led to transition scores," Costley said. "Reghan did a nice job of anticipating that next pass, and her play jump started us and got the momentum going for our team.”
Capital City scored the last three points of the half, but would not get any closer than 11 in the final two segments. Mexico carried a 32-19 command to open the fourth.
Freshman Brooklynn Greene led all scorers with 14 points and Kacy Highfill had four for Capital City girls (6-16).
In the preceding girls' jayvee contest, Mexico held off the young Cavaliers winning 23-22.
Mexico girls will look to extend their winning streak to six games come Tuesday, Feb. 18 when they join the Bulldog boys team in traveling to play at Kirksville.