North Nodaway started off the game by lobbing the ball into Madison Thompson at will; Kelsi Oberhauser hit a pair of free throws and a shot from the high post, Thompson scored off a lob, and Kristin Herndon added a steal. They were up 8-2 before Worth County found its footing as Anna Gladstone scored off a pullup and Kristin New got a steal. Madison Thompson scored off another lob pass, but Kaylee McElvain scored off an inside shot, Kristin New jumped a pass and went in for a layup, and Anna Gladstone went coast to coast, took on Madison Thompson, and made one of two to put Worth County up 11-10 after one, a far cry from last year when the running clock took over after three.
The game settled down into a defensive struggle. Worth County was having trouble getting the ball up the floor against Kristin Herndon; the Mustangs play a trapping defense, and Herndon is the front end of the defense. It is similar to Worth County’s. On the other end, Merrideth Spiers came off the bench and slowed down the Thompson girls. Regan Allee’s triple off a pass from Sidney Troutwine over Audrey Trimble put Worth County up 14-12, but then she sat down with three fouls. But Worth County held on defense as free throws from New and Gladstone put them up 17-12 at the break.
Bethany Herndon started off the scoring by hitting a free throw to cut Worth County’s lead to 17-13, but Merrideth Spiers hit two free throws following a putback and Kristin New scored off an Anna Gladstone steal to make it 21-13 with 6:57 left, forcing North Nodaway into a timeout.
It looked like the Mustangs were on the ropes, but then Regan Allee picked up her fourth foul and North Nodaway started making a concerted effort to get the ball into the Thompson girls, with success. Madison scored ten in the quarter and blocked two shots while Kristin Herndon got her steal count up to five and added a block. Jessi Badell’s high post shot was the only tally for Worth County as the lead was gone by the four minute mark and they fell behind by 27-23 going into the fourth.
But then Regan Allee came off the bench with four fouls and knocked down a triple to wake Worth County out of their stupor to start the fourth to make it 27-26. The Tigers went to their trapping zone, with immediate success as there was a lot more inside help on the Thompson girls. North Nodaway went to a box and one to try to stop Regan Allee, but Anna Gladstone got loose twice off passes from Jessi Badell after Madison Thompson’s free throw with 7:07 left had made it 28-26 North Nodaway. Then, as Mustang skipper Sami Jackson looked on in disbelief, Worth County turned a Kristin New steal into a Regan Allee 3-pointer to make it 33-28.
Free throws from Bethany Herndon and Madison Thompson and a steal from Kristin Herndon stopped the bleeding and made it 33-30, but then in a nearly superhuman effort, Anna Gladstone kept a possession alive by getting in between Madison Thompson and Bethany Herndon and snatching an offensive board, leading to a free throw from Jessi Badell to make it 34-30. As all the defensive attention was being focused on Allee, Jessi Badell got in behind the North Nodaway defense as Anna Gladstone was driving into traffic and was by herself for a layup to make it 36-30 with 3:12 left.
Alisha Davison, who had been quiet most of the game, suddenly knocked down a triple to make it 36-33, but Jessi Badell hit Anna Gladstone on a backdoor look and Payton Adwell and Kristin New hit free throws to make it 40-33 with 2:06 left.
But then the tide of the game turned again as Ashley Thompson, who normally struggles at the line, got fouled and hit two free throws to make it 40-35. North Nodaway switched to a man and a swarming defense forced a turnover, but Bethany Herndon missed a runner that would have made it three. Kristin New hit a free throw with 1:03 left, but then fouled out as Alisha Davison hit a free throw to make it 41-36 with 57 seconds left. Worth County tried for a layup, but Madison Thompson blocked a layup try, leading to a backdoor look to Bethany Herndon with 33 seconds left to make it 41-38, still plenty of time.
But with North Nodaway swarming and pressing, trying to get the ball back for a shot to tie, Jessi Badell beat Madison Thompson off the dribble and went in for a layup with 25 seconds for the dagger to make it 43-38. Thompson countered with a free throw with 13 seconds left, but Worth County was able to dribble out the clock for the victory.
Anna Gladstone and Regan Allee had 11 to lead the Tigers. Kristin New 9, Jessi Badell had 7, Kaylee McElvain and Merrideth Spiers had 2 each, and Payton Adwell had 1.
For North Nodaway, Madison Thompson had 17. Ashley Thompson had 6, Bethany Herndon had 4, Alisha Davison had 4, Kelsi Oberhauser had 4, and Kristin Herndon had 4.