Houston Lady Tigers coach Brent Kell talks to his team before Saturday's district game against Willow Springs.

CABOOL — Houston Lady Tigers coach Brent Kell said his team was nervous and timid when it mattered most.

The Lady Tigers fell behind 11-3 in their Class 3 District 10 opener and despite rallying to take a lead, lost to fifth-seeded Willow Springs 45-37 Saturday afternoon at Cabool High School.

Kell said several players told him moments before they game that they were nervous.

“That’s OK in a big game,” he said. “But once that jump ball goes up, you’ve got to lose those butterflies in the next few seconds. I just felt like we didn’t do that.”

Houston fell behind by as many as 10 points early in the second quarter before rallying to within six at the half. Junior Tory Burgess tied it with consecutive 3-pointers to begin the third quarter and gave the Lady Tigers a brief lead with another triple late in the quarter.

But the Lady Bears scored 10 of the next 11 points to recapture the lead and cruise to victory.

Kell said his players were similarly timid when the game was close at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

“It looked like at the end of the game we got nervous again,” Kell said. “We just didn’t handle that situation very well.”

Burgess finished with three 3-pointers — all in the third quarter — and a team-high 11 points. Junior Erica Keeney added 10 points as the only other player in double figures.

The Lady Tigers, who won six straight games in late January and early March, lost their final four games of the season to finish with a 9-17 record.

“I felt like we had some pieces in place to compete,” Kell said. “I was disappointed we didn’t win more games than we did. I think the girls felt the same way.”

Kell said perimeter shooting cost his team in many games, including the district opener. The Lady Tigers struggled offensively throughout the season. They only gave up 43 points per game but scored just 39.

“As we look back on the season, we just didn’t shoot the ball well,” Kell said. “I really felt it was going to be a strength for us this year.”

The loss was the final game in the careers of seniors Danielle Pounds, Shelbi Moore, Amber Honig and Jessica Herndon.

Box score

Willow Springs 14 11 7 13 — 45

Houston 9 10 11 7 — 37

WILLOW SPRINGS — Hutsell 1 2-2 4. Williams 1 2-3 4. Shanks 7 4-4 22. KynBunch 3 8-9 14. Girdler 0 0-2 0. KyrBunch 0 1-3 1. Totals 12 17-23 45.

HOUSTON (9-17) — Moore 1 0-0 2. Pounds 3 0-0 6. Burgess 4 0-0 11. Honig 1 5-8 7. Ichord 0 1-2 1. Keeney 4 2-3 10. Totals 13 8-13 37.

3-pointers: Willow Springs 4 (Shanks 4); Houston 3 (Burgess 3).

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