MINFORD - Last season, Minford won an outright SOC II title with the help of current South Webster star Kara Cayton.
On Thursday, fans that packed the Minford gym to see how she would fair in her old stomping grounds and got more than they expected.
A pair of free throws from South Webster's Kayla Cook with 51 seconds on the clock allowed the Lady Jeeps to overcome a halftime deficit and the loss of Cayton to injury to win 44-42 and remain undefeated at 11-0 (8-0 SOC II).
Minford though, had its chances to win. Ally Conrad scored with 39.1 seconds to play to bring the score within two. In the final 11 seconds, Minford (5-4, 3-3 SOC II) had three shots at the basket, but a mistake on an inbounds pass with two seconds remaining sealed the game.
“We missed opportunities,” Minford coach Kim Conley said. “We had opportunities and we just didn't capitalize on them.”
One opportunity the Lady Falcons did capitalize on was the Lady Jeeps' loss of Cayton.
During a scramble with 6:40 remaining in the first half, Cayton dove for a lose ball and appeared to injure her shoulder. Cayton, who has averaged double figures in points this season and did not return.
South Webster coach Kristie Johnson said Cayton would be taken to the hospital for an evaluation on what could be anything from a sprain to a broken clavicle.
With Cayton out, Minford pulled away to lead by five at halftime, but South Webster reached into last season's playbook to make some adjustments - namely, give the ball to Cook.
“It helped that (having just one main scorer) is how we were last year,” Johnson said. “We went back to some of our ways from last year. We had to make some adjustments with Kayla bringing it down the court ... (Erin) Sherman came in and hit some big shots and was that force inside so they couldn't double up on Kayla so much.
Cook scored 18 points with seven rebounds and Sherman had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Minford's lineup looked a little different than the last time the teams met. Freshman Kendra Justice got the start and rewarded her team with 12 points on four 3s.
“It's been there,” Conley said of Justice's ability. “It's just been grooming her for that position. She's worked hard and listened to what has been said. I knew this was a pretty tough game to bring her in on but I knew she could handle it. She did exceptionally well.”
Breslyn Harris led the Lady Falcons in scoring with 13 points and 10 rebounds and Ally Conrad scored 10 points as well, giving Minford three players in double figures.
“(Minford is) so talented and such an athletic team,” Johnson said. “We knew coming into their home place it was going to be a tough win. We got down in the first half and came in at halftime and talked about some adjustments we needed to make. We made those adjustments and wanted it. You could see in my girls' eyes they wanted it and they were going to do what it took to get there.”
South Webster's next contest is on the road against Clay on Dec. 27 while the Lady Falcons will head to Boyd County Ky. for a tournament the same day.
JOHN STEGEMAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
South Webster 15 10 7 12 - 44
Minford 15 15 5 7 - 42
South Webster - Queen 1 0 3, Sherman 5 0 10, Roark 1 0 2, Rawlins 4 0 8, Cook 6 5 18, Cayton 1 0 3. Totals 18 5 44.
Minford - McManus 1 0 2, Martin 0 3 3, Justin 4 0 12, Conrad 4 1 10, Harris 6 1 13, Donahoe 1 0 2. Totals 16 5 42.
3-pointers - South Webster 3 (Cook, Queen, Cayton); Minford 4 (Justice 4, Conrad)
Record - South Webster 11-0 (8-0); Minford 5-4 (3-3)