After dropping a first round game on Tuesday of last week, the Houston High School girls basketball team recorded two wins to finish on top of the consolation bracket at the 30th annual Lady Lions Invitational tournament at Mansfield.
The Lady Tigers began the week by falling 63-49 to Ava, but rebounded with a 46-37 victory over Mountain Grove on Friday and a 55-43 win against Dora on Saturday.
“I’m really proud of our team,” said HHS head coach Jim Moore. “Our goal for the week was to bring back some hardware of any kind and we were able to accomplish that.”
In the loss to Ava, Houston connected on a season-high 10 3-pointers. HHS junior guard Jaden Stell drained five treys and led all scorers in the contest with 24 points, while freshman guard Katie Chipps sank three from behind the arc and finished with 13 points and sophomore guard Hannah Dzurick added 10 (including two treys).
In the matchup with Mountain Grove, the two teams traded blows in the first half, with the Lady Panthers up 22-21 at the break. Houston then outscored Mountain Grove 10-2 in the third quarter and held on in the final period.
Stell again led the Lady Tigers in scoring with 16 points, while Dzurick had 15 and junior forward Riley Scheets added 6. Mountain Grove senior Alisha Condos led all scorers in the game, as the 6-1 forward scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and finished with 21.
After having free throws be a problem on several occasions this season, Houston went 11-for-13 from the line in the game. The Lady Tigers sealed the victory late in the fourth quarter when Dzurick and Stell each connected on both ends of 1-and-1 situations with less than 2 minutes to go.
“Free throws are always important,” Moore said. “They usually are the difference between winning and losing close games. It’s a continuous work in process, but we’re capable of shooting a high percentage.”
Houston led 27-26 at halftime against Dora, but outscored the Lady Falcons 16-7 in the third quarter.
Dzurick led the Lady Tigers’ balanced scoring attack with 13 points, while Stell had 12 and Scheets added 9. Freshman forward Karlee Curtis scored 7 points for Houston, while freshman guard Aliyah Walker added 6.
The host Lady Lions took the tournament championship with a decisive 75-44 victory over Forsyth in last Saturday’s final game. Dzurick was named to the event’s all-tournament team.
“Overall I thought we had a solid week,” Moore said. “We shot the ball well against Ava, we just couldn’t get enough rebounds or stops to pull off the upset. Against Mountain Grove, we couldn’t buy a basket, but it was one of the best defensive games we have had this year. Everyone played tough ‘D’ and we rebounded as a team. It was a good win for us.
“The Dora game was our most complete game of the year. We guarded, we rebounded and our offense was solid as well.”
After defeating Dora, the Lady Tigers had won twice in a row for the first time this season.
Following a lengthy stretch of nothing but road games, the Lady Tigers are back home this week with a pair of South Central Association conference games. Houston (6-10, 0-3 SCA through last week) hosted Ava on Monday and is scheduled to take on Willow Springs Thursday (Feb. 6), weather permitting.
“Our conference is always tough,” Moore said. “We will have some winnable games, but there isn’t any of them that will be easy. We call them 50/50 games. We must be ready to play every night.”
During a busy week, Houston also has a nonconference road game scheduled for this Friday (Feb. 7) at Koshkonong.
Feb. 6: vs. Willow Springs
Feb. 7: @ Koshkonong
Feb. 10: vs. Hartville
Feb. 13: @ Plato
Feb. 17: vs. Salem
Feb. 20: @ Mountain Grove
5. South Callaway
7. Southern Boone
10. El Dorado Springs
Others receiving votes: Miller Career Academy, St. Pius X (KC)