Shots may not have been falling for either Harrisonville or Sherwood in the first round of the Harrisonville Holiday Basketball Tournament Dec. 17, but the players were in a scrappy and sometimes sloppy 55-34 victory for the Wildcats.
“We came out really strong at times, but we definitely weren’t with the full energy we are going to need for the rest of the tournament,” Harrisonville junior guard Brianna Kendrick said. “It was definitely sloppy. We were trying to go fast-paced and we definitely need to improve on that.”
Kendrick was pretty much the only Wildcat player that could make a shot in the first quarter, as she put in 13 of Harrisonville’s 15 points to help the Wildcats take a 15-7 lead. In the second quarter, with Harrisonville ahead at 19-11, Sherwood closed the gap with a basket and free throw from senior forward Kristin Gibbs and a three-pointer from senior point guard Ashley Hayworth.
But then Harrisonville stepped up their play, going on a 13-0 run with a basket each from Kendrick and senior forward Anisa Alexander and three shots and three free throws from junior guard Samantha Bowers to take a 32-17 advantage. The Wildcats led 34-19 at halftime.
“The way we play sometimes, it gets a little bit sloppy, but we hope it gets sloppy for the other team and not for us,” Harrisonville head coach Mark Rorvig said. “Tonight, we let that seep into our game a little bit. We played really good for stretches, then sloppy and let them back into it here and there. I told the girls, if we can get consistent, with consistent effort and consistent play in the right way, we can be pretty tough to beat. But we weren’t there for 32 minutes tonight.”
In the third quarter, after a shot from Sherwood senior forward Britney Atkin, Kendrick sunk a three-pointer, which was followed by a basket from senior point guard Kristen Searcy for the Marksmen to make the score 37-23. But the rest of the quarter belonged to Harrisonville, as the Wildcats stole the ball away and made basket after basket to take a 47-23 lead.
“I think for us, we got our defense going,” Rorvig said. “We had four or five possessions in a row where we got a steal and scored, got a steal and scored. If we are able to do that, we can be a pretty good team. If we don’t get it going like that, we can have some difficulty. That was kind of a key there in those few stretches.”
In the fourth quarter, with Harrisonville up at 53-25, it was Sherwood’s turn for a run, as Atkin put in a free throw and basket and sophomore guard Kirsten Smith sunk two free throws to make the score 53-30. The Wildcats responded with a basket from senior guard Brook Riley and the Marksmen ended the game with a shot from Atkin and a bucket from senior guard Courtney Hall.
“The third quarter we came out and really got it together and started playing our game,” Kendrick said. “We really got it together right there and that’s what pulled it together for the rest of the game.”
The Wildcats were led in scoring by Kendrick with 20 points, followed by Bowers with nine points and Mackenzie Hocker with eight points. Riley and Alexander put in six points each and Bayli Galeassi, Haley Parker and Mikaila Stackhouse had two points apiece.
The Marksmen were led by Atkin with nine points and Gibbs with eight points. Hall and Hayworth had five points each and Smith had four points. Searcy and Kaylee Adams added two points apiece.
Harrisonville, 6-1, beat O’Hara 40-34 in the semifinals Dec. 18 , moving on to the championship game against Drexel Dec. 19. Sherwood, 5-4, lost to Nevada in the consolation semifinals Dec. 18, taking on Butler for fifth place Dec. 19.
“We definitely want to get it together to win first place,” Kendrick said. “It’s always nice to get first place at our own tournament.”
“My goal for us, is game by game, to get better each game,” Rorvig added. “I don’t feel like we played our best tonight, so I feel like if we keep taking steps forward, I can at least live with that. Win or lose.”