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Thursday, May 5, 2016

District domination!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

COUCH LADY INDIANS: Class 2 District 2 Tournament champions. Photo/Mullins
When their offense is struggling, great teams turn to their defense for a spark.

And that's just what the Couch Lady Indians did in the critical third period of their matchup with the Hartville Lady Eagles in the championship game of the Class 2 District 2 Tournament March 7 at Summersville High School.

Just up by a point at the half, the top-seeded Lady Indians missed their first three shots of the third period, all from point-blank range and Hartville, the number three seed, took advantage of this and pulled ahead.

But then Couch hit the Lady Eagles like a bag full of bricks, turning up the defensive pressure, helping the Lady Indians score 17 points in a row, to run away with a 64-47 victory, and the district championship.

The Lady Indians (25-3), ranked fourth in Class 2, advanced to the sectional round in Poplar Bluff, where they faced Portageville, Class 2's top-ranked team.

In the district finals against the two-time defending champs from Hartville, Tara Combs and the swarming Lady Indian defense, simply took over the third period. Combs poured in 10 of her game-high 20 points in the frame, while the Lady Indians either swiped the ball with regularity, or forced the Lady Eagles to just throw it into the stands, helping Couch turn a close game into a rout.

But the Lady Indians started the third a bit shaky, missing some easy shot attempts before Jessica Jones (six points) nailed Couch's first hoop of the second half.

Meanwhile, the Lady Eagles opened the third on a 6-2 run to take a 29-26 advantage.

Then came Combs and the Lady Indians' trademark defense.

Combs busted a huge triple at the 5:29 mark to knot the contest at 29-all.

Jumping into Hartville's passing lanes, Couch racked up three straight steals to keep the Lady Eagles at bay, while the Lady Indians' offense found its groove.

Lizzie Nessling (11 points) tossed in four consecutive points, followed by a Combs' jumper and layup by Whitney Mills (16 points).

Combs then got free for back-to-back shots in the lane and Mills added a baseline jumper to wrap up a game-changing 17-0 run for Couch.

Hartville's Maggie Arnall (18 points) stopped the Couch spurt with a bucket at the 1:14 mark, but the period ended, Couch had turned a tie game into a 13-point Lady Indian lead, 44-31.

Lorra Wicker (eight points) got busy early in the fourth and made sure Hartville knew that Couch had no plans of backing down. She knocked down the Lady Indians' first two hoops of the final frame to extend her team's cushion to 48-33.

The Lady Eagles just could not come close to catching Couch in the fourth, made worse by the fact that Arnall and Blake Kaisler (14 points), Hartville's two driving wheels, both fouled out late in the game.

Hartville did get within 12 points with 2:30 left, but Nessling hit a hoop, Mills hit two free throws and Combs added four from the charity stripe, to give Couch a 64-47 victory.

The game was tied at 12-all late in the first on a Mills' trey when Hartville closed the period on a 7-2 run to move on top 19-14 after one.

Things kind of fell apart for the Lady Eagles in the second and Couch allowed Hartville just four points in the stanza, holding the Lady Eagles scoreless until 1:14 was left before the half.

The Lady Indians got a hoop in the paint and a 3-ball from Cassie Roberts to lock the game at 19-all.

A stickback by Jones, plus three freebies by Mills, pushed Couch on top 24-19.

Hartville finally got on the board with two free throws from Arnall, but the Lady Indians still held a one-point lead, 24-23, at intermission.

Chatiry Milbauer logged 11 points for Hartville, while Jasmin Hughes and Lynsday Burke finished with two points each.

In the semi-final round March 6, Couch blasted fourth-seeded Norwood 60-34.

The Lady Indians led 25-12 after the first period and 34-19 at the half. With Couch in front 43-34 after three, the Lady Indians finished off the Lady Pirates by outscoring Norwood 17-2 in the fourth period.

Nessling and Mills led Couch with 14 points apiece, while Jones had 10 and Wicker nine. Combs finished the game with five, while Risner and Roberts tossed in four points each.

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