(Kenny Felt/Captured Images)
Wednesday night was no exception as the Greyhounds struggled early again. But in the second half, a change in strategy and Ashlie Baker's hot hand sparked a rally that led to a 58-45 victory over Neosho County in Jayhawk Conference-Eastern Division play at Arnold Arena.
The 'Hounds (5-8 East, 8-17 overall) trailed by only 2 points at the half but fell farther behind and found themselves down by as many as nine points, 39-30, with 12 1/2 minutes remaining.
Head coach Diana Couch had an initial strategy of trying to beat Neosho (2-11, 4-21) with the outside shot. But as 3-point shot after 3-point shot bounced off the rim, she called for a change.
"Every once in a while, the kids a little bit slow to get out of the box," Couch said. "I think I was a little slow tonight, myself. I was really thinking that we could hit some outside shots and get things done and the team wasn't responding very well.
"At one point, I told them everything we were going to do the rest of the night would be from inside, inside, inside. And they responded tremendously well. I'll take the blame on that one. Maybe we should have gone to that a little earlier."
The Fort Scott rally began with a couple of transition baskets from Kerenza Singletary -- last week's Eastern Division Player of the Week -- and Baker.
Baker's basket sparked a personal 8-point run with her basket off her own steal bringing the Greyhounds within 40-41 with 6:57 remaining in the contest.
The run continued and Staci Carter gave Fort Scott the lead with a stickback of a missed free throw at 44-41, with just about five minutes to go.
And while Fort Scott got hot, Neosho County went just as cold. After making 8 of their first 15 field-goal attempts of the second half, the Panthers only made three more the rest of the way on 14 attempts.
An unusual call may have been the play that broke Neosho's resolve. Jolee Sharp made an excellent back-door pass to Kendra Mattox for a basket with 1:42 remaining. The whistle blew and most assumed Mattox would be going to the line to complete a 3-point play. Instead, the official who called the foul said that it occurred after Mattox shot and that she would be at the line for two shots.
Mattox made both, making it 52-43.
Sharp led the 'Hounds with 17 points -- and also had 11 rebounds and 7 steals -- even though she didn't make a field goal in the second half. Mattox added 15 points, Singletary 11 and a game-high 16 rebounds and Baker finished with 10.
"For us to really put a team away, we need to have at least four players in double digits," Couch said. "It used to be just Jolee or just Jolee and Ashlie or Jolee and Kendra. I told them that we need to take the weight off (Sharp's) back and I love this. And Jolee's loving it too because she's getting to play more and the weight's being taken off her shoulders."
Sydnee Henderson led Neosho County with 13 points and Ayonna Lancaster added 11.
Fort Scott shot 30 percent from the field, making 20 of 66 total field-goal attempts but was just 2 of 24 from 3-point range. Neosho finished at 35 percent on 19 of 54.
The 'Hounds outrebounded the Panthers, 49-40, with Singletary collecting 11 of her boards in the second half. Fort Scott also committed just 11 turnovers.
NEOSHO COUNTY: Garner 2-4 0-0 4, Campbell 2-4 0-0 5, Lancaster 4-12 3-6 11, King 3-8 1-3 7, Herring 0-0 0-0 0, Zenon 1-6 0-0 3, Hadley 0-0 0-0 0, Downs 1-5 0-0 2, Henderson 6-15 0-0 13. TOTALS: 19-54 4-9 45.
FORT SCOTT: Crow 0-10 0-0 0, Young 0-1 0-0 0, Sharp 4-13 8-10 17, Singletary 5-10 1-3 11, Mattox 6-16 2-2 15, Carter 2-5 1-2 5, Baker 3-8 4-6 10, Bonaparte 0-3 0-0 0. TOTALS: 20-66 16-23 58.
Halftime: Neosho County, 22-20.
Three-point field goals: Neosho County 3-15 (Campbell 1-3, Zenon 1-4, Henderson 1-5, Downs 0-1, Lancaster 0-2), Fort Scott 2-24 (Sharp 1-4, Mattox 1-7, Baker 0-4, Crow 0-9).
Total fouls: Neosho County 19, Fort Scott 11. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.
Rebounds: Neosho County 40 (King 13), Fort Scott 49 (Singletary 16, Sharp 11). Assists: Neosho County 8 (Zenon 4), Fort Scott 10 (Baker 5). Turnovers: Neosho County 17, Fort Scott 11. Steals: Neosho County 6 (Lancaster 2), Fort Scott 15 (Sharp 7). Blocked shots: Neosho County 3 (3 with 1 each), Fort Scott 3 (Sharp 3).