Make it five games now since the last Waynesville Lady Tigers (14-5) basketball team last lost a game.
Monday's 77-62 victory over the Camdenton Lady Lakers (11-9) is the latest of a string of double-digit victories by the Lady Tigers who have averaged a comfortable 26.8 average margin of victory.
Senior Ashton Pilz said the run has provided a good deal of momentum heading into the final stretch of the schedule.
“We're getting on a streak and I think it's building our confidence,” Pilz said. “Tonight helped us because Thursday we'll face West Plains and they'll have the same pressure as Camdenton.”
After some back-and-forth play found Waynesville down 13-12 with 3:16 to go in the first quarter, Pilz knocked down a left-wing three-pointer to put the Tigers back up on top. She hit two more baskets before the end of the quarter and Waynesville went into the second on top 19-17.
She finished with 17 points in the game, a personal season high, two days after her grandfather, Gerald Pilz, passed away at the age of 77.
Gerald is perhaps known best in the sports world through the Gerald A. Pilz and Friends All-Star games which showcase some of the best senior high school basketball players in games played at College of the Ozarks. In 22 years 660 players have competed from 137 schools in an event that has raised thousands of dollars for C of O scholarships and books.
Ashton said the days since his passing have been difficult for her family.
“It's been really hard since he passed away,” Pilz said. “He was a big icon in basketball. I just want to dedicate these last few games to him and do the best I can. He really wanted to see me play but he didn't get the chance to.”
With 1:47 left in the half the Lakers scored six unanswered points to take a 34-33 lead.
But ReShawna Stone hit a bucket with 17 seconds left and Nina Kizzee grabbed a rebound on the other end of the floor and went coast-to-coast to hit a layup with two seconds left on the board to put Waynesville up 37-34 heading into halftime.
A 12-2 run during the third quarter gave the Lady Tigers their first double-digit lead.
An 11-2 stretch to begin the fourth cemented it.
At times Camdenton coach Staci Caffey could be heard saying “no layups” from the bench area but that wish wasn't granted many times.
“Our big thing was to try to contain the drive and we didn't do that very well tonight,” Caffey said.
Only three three-pointers were hit by the Lady Tigers – one apiece by Kizzee, Pilz and Stone – in a game that saw four Waynesville shooters end up with 15-plus points.
Coach Brittany Matlock said she was glad to see the ball make its way into the hands of many.
“Good night sharing the ball,” Matlock said. “We got a lot of kids involved. And we stepped up on defense. Do we still have some things to work on? Yes but I'm proud overall and, hopefully, we'll continue to move into the right direction going into districts.”
Stone led all scorers with 25 points. Kizzee and Kiara Shoulders both had 15, Victoria Perry three and Afatia Poinsette two.
For Camdenton it was Coley Rezabek and Kylie Meier who scored 18 points to lead the Lakers and Natalie Basham finished her night with 16 of her own.
Waynesville shot 54 percent from the floor and the Lakers hit on 40 percent of their attempts.
The Lady Tigers led by as many as 21 points Monday but Camdenton had a 7-0 run in the final minutes to help make the score look more respectable.
“That's one of the things we tell the girls – you play to the end of the buzzer,” Caffey said. “I really felt like if I pulled them out right then I'm going against what I teach. These girls needed to pull themselves out. It wasn't like we felt like we were coming back to pull through. They know how bad they played tonight. I think it kind of helped them to continue to work things through.”
The Lakers' next game will be at home on Thursday against Rolla (6-13).