The sixth-seeded Alton Lady Comets were intent on doing as much damage as they could in the Class 3 District 10 Tournament at The Pit in Cabool.
Heading into the tourney at The Pit, the Lady Comets were on a major late-season roll and had ripped off a six-game winning streak. Just the kind of momentum a squad wants as it approaches post-season play.
While the young Lady Comets didn't earn a spot in the state tournament with the way they played in Cabool, they still managed to send a message to the rest of the district field -- look out for us next year.
Alton started play in the tourney by upsetting third-seeded Houston 56-55 March 2, earning the Lady Comets a berth in the semi-final round opposite the number two seed from Licking High School.
And although the Lady Wildcats slipped past Alton 50-48 March 4, Licking got all it wanted, and more, from the hard-charging Lady Comets (14-13).
This one was a battle to the finish.
With Alton down by two points with under a minute left in the game, Alex Hower (10 points) drilled a huge trey that pushed the Lady Comets in front 48-47.
Licking quickly answered back with a hoop from Brandy Duncan that switched the lead back to the Lady Wildcats at 49-48 with 40 ticks left in the game.
Alton called a pair of timeouts with the ball in its possession, but with eight seconds left, the Lady Comets turned the ball over without getting a shot and were forced to foul Licking.
Brooke Whitaker hit one of two free throws, edging the Lady Wildcats in front 50-48.
Alton had one last chance with two seconds showing, but a desperation shot at the buzzer missed the mark, leaving Licking with a hard-earned victory over a gritty squad of Lady Comets.
Myranda Reynolds had a monster second half for Alton, scoring eight of her team-leading 11 points in the last two periods.
She also pulled down 13 rebounds in the game.
The Lady Comets held a 26-22 advantage at the half, but five straight points from Duncan pulled Licking within one early in the third.
Becca See (six points) hit a layup and Hower canned a triple to edge Alton back in front 33-27 late in the frame.
Heading into the fourth period, Alton was owner of a slim 35-32 lead.
Licking kept chipping away and finally managed to tie the contest at 41-all midway into the fourth, setting up the frantic run to the finish line.
Licking held a 13-10 lead after the first period, but then Alton smacked the Lady Wildcats with a huge 13-zip run in the second to build a 10-point lead.
Casey Miller (four points) started the burst with a jumper, followed by a 3-ball from Jessica Bailey (seven points). Miller chipped in with a pair of charity tosses, Lacey Hodge (eight points) hit two from the free throw line and then Hower added a baseline basket. By the time Hodge wrapped up this big run with a stickback of a missed shot, Alton had went from three down after one to 10 points up, 23-13, late in the second.
Duncan broke the Alton run with a 3-pointer, but the Lady Comets still managed to take a 26-22 cushion to the break.
Kristina Russback finished with two points for Alton.
In opening-round action March 2, the Lady Comets hit seven of eight free throws in the last 1:20 of the game to push past Houston 56-55.
Hower paced Alton with 21 points, while Bailey hit four treys on her way to 14 points. Reynolds added 10, See had six and Miller ended the game with three points for the Lady Comets.
In boys' action for the Class 3 District 10 Tournament, the Alton Comets, the tourney's eighth-seed, fell to top-seeded Liberty 72-45 March 2.