Slow start too much for Lady Indians
It was with a reversal of fortune on their minds that the Couch Lady Indians took the court for the Class 1 Sectional playoffs March 8 at The Pit on the campus of Cabool High School.
Matched up with the Chadwick Lady Cardinals for the third straight year in the first round of the state playoffs, Couch was looking for a little redemption against the team that knocked it out of the sectionals last season.
However, when the the final horn sounded, it was the Lady Cardinals who were smiling, as Chadwick advanced to the state quarterfinals with a 47-38 win over Couch.
The Lady Indians' (17-10) downfall against Chadwick, ranked number two in Class 1, proved to come in a first half in which they managed just nine points.
Falling behind the 8-ball early, Couch did rally a bit late, but it just couldn't get that one defensive stop or critical offensive rebound that might have led to a scoring run.
Sandy LaBahn (six points) busted a 3-pointer early in the first, and Kim LaBahn hit a baseline hoop that gave the Lady Indians a 5-2 lead, a lead they would hold briefly before Chadwick took over for the remainder of the night. Kim LaBahn paced Couch's efforts with a team-high 19 points.
The Lady Cardinals closed out the first period with a 6-0 run, helped by a pair of Couch turnovers inside the 40-second mark, to grab the advantage at 8-5 after one.
After Kandi York (six points) grabbed an offensive board and stuck it in the hoop to start the second period for Couch, things quickly deteriorated for the Lady Indians' chances at a victory.
Chadwick outscored Couch 13-2 the last 5:36 of the second period to build a commanding 21-9 lead at intermission. Lady Indian Caitlyn Melton (three points), saddled with three fouls, was forced to miss the last three minutes of the first half, taking Couch out of its normal rotation pattern.
The turnovers and miscues that held the Lady Indians back in the first half of play subsided a bit in the third period, as Couch tried to dig itself out of a deep hole and keep Chadwick from completely running away with the game.
Down 25-13 at the 4:19 mark of the frame, Melton and Sandy LaBahn drilled back-to-back triples in a 45-second span to pull Couch within six, at 25-19.
Chadwick posted the last four points of the third to remain on top by 10, 29-19, after three.
It was more of the same in the fourth, with Couch closing ground only to find the Lady Cardinals sporting an answer every time they needed one.
Kim LaBahn found the inside of the paint open for business in the final period, as she tossed in 13 points, most on the low blocks, down the stretch run.
Chadwick's Jessi Pierce had an equally impressive last period of play for the Lady Cardinals.
After Couch had edged closer at 38-27, Pierce popped a trey that pushed Chadwick's lead back to 14 with 3:49 left on the clock.
Pierce then rounded out Chadwick's victory by hitting five throws inside the two- minute mark of the game, on her way to eight important fourth-period points for the Lady Cardinals, helping her squad advance to the state quarterfinals with a nine-point win over Couch.
Tonya Combs logged four points for the Lady Indians.