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By: Corey Stott
SHELBYVILLE, Mo.- (1/19/21-1/22/21)- Coach Cory Shultz and his Scotland County Lady Tigers (9-4) hit the road to Shelbyville last week to compete in the 33rd annual North Shelby Tournament. The squad fell a bit short of their goal of winning the championship, but did end up bringing home the third place hardware.
The week brought a full slate of competitive basketball, and an opportunity for Coach Shultz to try and find the one thing his squad has lacked all season- consistency. “Consistency is what we’re looking for right now,” he said. “I don’t feel like we’ve shot the ball very well all year. We’ve got some pretty good shooters out here that aren’t shooting a very good percentage right now. When we start hitting, I think we’ll be pretty tough.”
The Lady Tigers may not have the consistency nailed down just quite yet, as the week had it’s ups and downs. But there were many good things that the team could take out of the week and build on.
The first action for the #2 seeded Scotland County ladies came on Tuesday night against #7 seeded Marion County. Both teams got off to a flat start, but Scotland County led 13-9 after one quarter. Scotland County had trouble getting shots at the rim to go down, but they did an excellent job of cleaning the glass with their rebounding.
The Lady Tigers outscored the Lady Mustangs 15-9 in the second quarter, despite hot three-point shooting from Halle Keilholz. Keilholz had 14 points, including four three-pointers in the half. Scotland County took a 28-18 lead to the halftime locker room.
The third quarter saw the Lady Tiger defense smothering Marion County. Scotland County outscored the Lady Mustangs 14-11 to lead 42-29 after three.
Marion County rallied in the fourth quarter behind hot shooting and some untimely Scotland County turnovers. The Lady Mustangs outscored Scotland County 17-13 in the final period, but the last half of the quarter saw the Lady Tigers begin to drive the lane and attack the rim, and that put them on the foul line multiple times to close the game out. Free throw shooting down the stretch helped secure a 55-46 victory for Scotland County.
Keilholz led all scorers with 24 points, including six three-pointers and six of six free throw shooting. For Scotland County, Morgan Blessing had the hot hand, scoring 17 points, including four three-pointers. Feeney had 12 points and went six of seven on free throws in the fourth quarter. Emiley Dial had a double-digit night with 10 points.
Next up for Scotland County was a championship semi-final matchup with the host team North Shelby Lady Raiders on Thursday night. In this game, the consistency, or lack thereof, bit the Lady Tigers in the rump. It was a game marred by turnovers, poor shots and an untypically flat defense. The Lady Raiders came out ready to play in this one, and took the early lead on a Natalie Thrasher three-pointer. Scotland County did claw back to take a 9-8 lead with 3:08 to play in the first quarter, but a minute-and-a-half later, they fouled Hannah Wahl, who hit both free throws to reclaim the lead. The Lady Tigers would never see the lead again for the remainder of the game.
North Shelby outscored Scotland County 15-9 in the first quarter. Both teams put up 11 points in the second quarter, and the Lady Raiders took a 26-20 lead into halftime. Scotland County outscored North Shelby 16-14 in the third quarter, but still trailed 40-36 after three.
With 4:37 left to play in the game, Feeney was fouled on a loose ball scramble. She hit both ends of the one-and-one bonus to tie the game at 44. But just 24 seconds later, Caroline Linberger nailed the shot and made the “and one” free throw to re-take a 47-44 lead. It was as close as the Lady Tigers would get. North Shelby outscored them 19-17 in the final quarter and won the game 59-53.
Thrasher led all scorers with 18, Linberger had 16, and Ava Williams had 13. Scotland County was led by Alaynna Whitaker with 15 and Feeney with 13.
“We’re in a slump,” Shultz declared after the game. “We pride ourselves on defense and even that was lacking (Thursday night).” He believes confidence is the issue. “We’re lacking confidence. We need to see a few shots go in. Right now, we’re shooting more of a prayer instead of just actually shooting it.”
The loss placed the Lady Tigers into the third-place bracket on Friday night. They faced a familiar foe in the Schuyler County Lady Rams. The game marked the third matchup of these two teams already this season, with the Lady Rams winning both prior games.
In what’s been a recurring theme so far this year, the Lady Tigers came out and started the first quarter flat. They outscored Schuyler 13-11, but gave up some open looks behind the three-point arc that allowed the Lady Rams to hang around.
Scotland County ratcheted up the defensive intensity and held Schuyler County to only four second quarter points, while tallying 11 of their own. They led 24-15 going to halftime.
In the third quarter, the Lady Tigers kept their foot on the gas and outscored Schuyler County 10-3. They were firmly in control with a 34-18 lead after three. In the fourth, it was much of the same, with Scotland County outscoring the Lady Rams 13-4 for a 47-22 victory and the third-place hardware.
Tinley Roberts led the Lady Rams with 10 points on the night. Feeney led all scorers with 16 and Kylee Stott scored 10 points for Scotland County.
“I think we played very well on both sides of the ball,” Shultz said. “We threw in a little 2-3 zone. I’m not a zone guy, but it looks like we’re gonna do it a little bit now and then. The girls did a really good job of bouncing back tonight.”