After getting off to a slow start due to in large part to ice cold shooting, the Houston High School girls basketball team turned up the heat and routed Couch 56-13 in the first game of the season Tuesday in Hiett Gymnasium.

“I loved our intensity we showed throughout the entire game,” said HHS head coach Jim Moore. “We worked hard, put pressure on the ball, pushed the tempo and ultimately wore them down.” 

The Lady Tigers led 11-7 at the end of the first quarter, but the visiting Lady Indians (of Oregon County) were held to only 6 points the rest of the way as Houston’s relentless full-court defensive pressure proved to be too much to handle.

After freshman guard Katie Chipps hit a 3-pointer to register the Lady Tigers’ first points of the season and put her team on top 3-0, Couch went on to lead 7-5 with about 35 seconds left in the first quarter. But HHS sophomore guard Hannah Dzurick drained two 3-point shots before the period ended, including a buzzer-beater.

The Lady Tigers took control of the game in the second quarter, outscoring the Lady Indians 20-2 to lead 31-9 at halftime. Junior guard Jaden Stell led the onslaught, nailing three treys and pouring in 11 points in the period.

The Lady Tigers picked up where they left off after the break, and built a 37-9 advantage on a short bucket by freshman Karlee Curtis on a perfectly executed inbounds play under the basket. Houston led 46-13 at the end of the third quarter after freshman guard Aliyah Walker stole the ball from Couch freshman Haylie Larson at midcourt and converted a layup with under a minute left in the period.

The Lady Indians then went scoreless in the fourth quarter.

Stell finished with a game high 14 points, and flew around on defense on every Couch possession while she was on the floor. Dzurick had 12 points for Houston, while the squad’s freshman contingent made a major contribution, as Curtis scored 8 points, Chipps had 7, Rhease Manier had 6 and Walker added 5.

“I thought our bench played well,” Moore said. “We played a lot of girls without much of a drop off talent-wise. That will be key for us to play the way we want to play all year.”  

Houston sank 7-of-15 3-point attempts in the contest and went 5-for-8 from the free throw line.

Battle for the ball

HHS freshman Karlee Curtis battles for the ball with Couch sophomore Miranda Morgan during the Lady Tigers’ win Tuesday in Hiett Gymnasium.

“Our start was shaky,” Moore said. “It took about the first quarter for us to get settled in. We forced some shots early in the game, but eventually got into a rhythm. I was really proud of how we shared the ball and looked to make the extra pass creating a great shot versus just a good shot.” 

The Lady Tigers host county rival Licking at 6 p.m. Monday (Dec. 9) and travel to Taney County next Thursday (Dec. 12) to take on Bradleyville.

“I believe we can communicate with each other better on the floor,” Moore said. “We were too quiet out there. We also need to rebound better. Rebounding will be the difference in beating really good teams and losing to them. We played good defense, but we can be much better and will be. 

“We just need to keep working hard and improving every opportunity we get, whether that be in practice or a game.”

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