WEBB CITY, Mo. — The Webb City girls basketball team rode a strong third quarter to a 47-39 Central Ozark Conference victory over Willard on Monday night inside the Cardinal Dome.
After scoring just 13 points in the first half, and trailing on the scoreboard, the Cardinals righted the ship after the break.
Clicking on all cylinders, Webb City scored the first 12 points of the third period to take a lead they would never relinquish.
“At halftime we talked about the fact that we were getting the shots we wanted in the first half, but they just weren’t falling,” Webb City coach Lance Robbins said. “I thought our defense kept us in the game in the first half. At halftime, we told them to stay confident and to keep getting the ball inside to Sami (Mancini). We wanted to establish Sami in the second half, and I thought we were able to do that. She went up strong and was able to finish some shots she missed earlier in the game. That opened up things for us and we had kids step up and make some shots from the outside.”
Webb City outscored Willard 34-22 in the second half.
“We tried to mix things up defensively to keep them out of rhythm,” Robbins said of the second half. “We knew they could be an explosive team offensively. Offensively, we just wanted to keep getting the ball into Sami. I thought she did a great job of scoring when she needed to or kicking it out. There’s no secret…we have to get her the ball in the paint.”
Receiving votes in the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association’s Class 5 poll, Webb City improved to 14-7 overall and 4-1 in the COC with the come from behind win.
A sophomore post player, Mancini scored 21 points and grabbed 20 rebounds to lead the Cardinals. The 6-foot- 5 Mancini, who was double or triple-teamed when she received the ball in the paint, made 9-of-19 field goal attempts.
Three players scored seven points apiece for the Cardinals—senior Kate Brownfield, junior Mia Robbins and sophomore Kirra Long. Izzy Lopez contributed three points and Malorie Stanley had two to round out Webb City’s scoring.
The Cardinals made 14-of-46 field goal attempts (30 percent), including 4-for-23 from beyond the arc.
Willard shot 27 percent from the floor (12-of-44), and the visitors hit just 2-of-11 attempts from long distance.
Senior Kailyn Washington led the Tigers (6-12, 1-3 COC) with 20 points and freshman Elise Murray added 12 points.
The first quarter wasn’t exactly pretty, as Webb City did not make a field goal in the opening frame, just a pair of free throws.
At the end of the low-scoring first period, Willard held a 9-2 advantage.
The Cardinals started the second period on a 9-0 burst, as Mancini converted three hoops inside and Mia Robbins knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
The Tigers responded with an 8-0 run for a 17-11 lead. Two charities from Long trimmed Webb City’s deficit to four by the break.
The Cardinals stepped it up immediately after intermission.
Webb City started the second half on a game-changing 12-0 surge, with Mancini scoring three hoops inside and both Brownfield and Mia Robbins draining 3-pointers for a 25-17 lead.
The Tigers stopped the spurt, but the Cardinals scored seven straight points late in the third quarter, and the hosts held a 34-27 lead heading into the fourth period.
Overall, Webb City won the third period 21-10.
Webb City’s lead was down to two in the fourth quarter, but the hosts never gave up their lead.
Mancini converted a bucket in the paint and Lopez made two free throws to give the Cards some breathing room.
The Cardinals made 11-of-16 free throws in the final frame to secure the win.
Taking better care of the ball against Willard’s full-court pressure down the stretch was another key to victory for the Cardinals.
“At times we didn’t handle the pressure real well,” Coach Robbins said. “But I thought when we needed to late in the game, we did a good job of handling their pressure. We did a better job of stepping to passes and looking up the floor.”
Next, Webb City hosts Class 6 No. 3 Republic on Thursday in another COC clash.
“Republic’s a very good team and they’re well-coached,” Robbins said. “We’re excited and ready for the challenge.”
FULL STATS: Webb City HS (webbcitycardinals.com)