A win was just out of reach for Camdenton Tuesday night.

The Lakers hosted Waynesville in an Ozark Conference battle and after trailing by as many as 18, Camdenton cut the deficit to four twice but could not get over the hump in a 76-65 loss to the visitors.

“It was lopsided a little bit on the fouls, but a good team has to be able to overcome those things and tonight we were not able to,” Camdenton coach Craig Campbell said after his team was charged with 28 fouls to Waynesville’s 14 while the Tigers shot 23 more free throws. “What hurt us was really the second quarter. We could not hit a shot and that is where the margin came.”

Camdenton trailed by just a single point going into the second quarter, but 12 unanswered Tiger points gave the Lakers fits. The home side responded with a 7-1 run of its own, but Camdenton was down by 12 at halftime and trailed by as many as 18 in the third quarter.

“They got some guys that can shoot the basketball and the big thing with them is that you cannot leave them open,” Campbell said of Waynesville’s shooters. “In the second quarter, we did. (Carson) Cavalier hit three 3-pointers in three straight trips. If we do what we did on him in the first quarter, then it is a different ballgame at halftime.”

However, that was not the only weapon in the Tiger arsenal as Tahja Stewart scored 26 of the team’s 76 total points.

“He put his head down, attacked the basket and we did not do a very good job of forcing him to his left or getting in front of him and taking a charge,” Campbell pointed out.

The Lakers may have been frustrated but still had some fight left in them as the 18-point Tiger lead evaporated due to a 20-6 Laker run between the third and fourth quarters. Unfortunately for Camdenton, the Tigers found a way to hold on and kill momentum. That especially rang true on a foul against junior Brandon Pasley that resulted in a 3-point play for Waynesville instead of a charge going the other way.

“That was a momentum swing back in their direction and that was kind of the difference,” said Campbell who noted his team does not quit. “If we got that call, who knows, we might have came out on top but that was definitely a momentum swing. There were two or three of those in the second half where we were getting stuff going and something happened whether it was a turnover by us, a bad shot or a call that went the other way.

“We just did not have it tonight and it was just one of those games.”

Camdenton senior Kelton Virtue led the Lakers with 24 points, followed by senior Viterio Anderson’s 14 and senior Luke Eveland’s 12. The Lakers did not get the result they were looking for, but Campbell has continued to see a lot of good things from his club which could earn its first winning season since 2014.

“The big thing is that we have to keep improving and keep moving forward. I’ve said that all year with these guys and we are 11-11 now, which is great for these guys,” the coach said. “They’ve never been in this situation in their high school careers. They are learning as we go and keep improving and getting better.”

And it is that continued growth that Campbell looks forward to moving forward.

“I’ll be honest, if we play this Waynesville team a month ago they probably beat us pretty bad. That is how much these guys have grown,” he stated. “They are starting to trust each other a little bit more and understand that when we are at our best is when we speed up the other team, play fast, look to attack and not play back on our heels.

“We did that three of the four quarters and it was just that one quarter we didn’t that got us. If we can put four quarters together, we are pretty tough.”

Camdenton (11-11, 0-5 Ozark Conference) will take on Springfield Central Thursday at 4:30 p.m., and look to finish the four remaining games of the regular season on a high note. Campbell said he hopes to see Waynesville again in districts.

“I feel like we’ll play a little bit better,” he posited. “I think this is one of those games that whoever won this one was probably getting the one seed in districts. Not a guarantee with four games left and how those four go will dictate a little bit, but I think that pressure got to our guys just a little bit.

“Those types of games a lot of these guys are not used to until this year and they are getting better at them. It will be a game we learn from, get better and hopefully we come back stronger the next time we play.”