SPRINGFIELD – Coming off its first loss of the season, the Branson High School girls’ basketball team found its perfect medicine in Tuesday’s opening-round game at the Pink and White Lady Classic.
Coach Kip Bough saw enough problem areas in the Lady Pirates’ 45-39 loss to West Plains on Dec. 19 to hit something of a reset button with his team and star point guard Priscilla Williams.
“She’s so coachable, that after that West Plains game, we just sat down and said, ‘This is not how we want it, it’s not how we’re envisioning it,’ ” Bough said. “So we just worked on how we wanted to run our offense, and that’s what she did (Tuesday).”
The result was a runaway victory for the Lady Pirates in the Pink Division first round, including an 18-2 lead after one quarter, a 33-10 halftime advantage and a 62-36 first-round win over Springfield Catholic.
“I thought we came out really well,” Williams said. “After our loss, it really hit us. We’re not as good as we think we are, and we’re not as bad as we think we are. For us, it was a comeback moment.
“We had it clicking.”
The start to the game included a pair of 3-pointers from Karis Goodwin, plus steals and layups off fast breaks by Williams and Lauren Garrison.
That made it a 14-0 Branson lead and forced a Catholic timeout with 3:26 left in the opening period.
“It set the tone from the beginning, to show them what it’s all about and get the momentum going for us,” Williams said.
Williams fed Garrison for a fast-break layup early in the second quarter, then hit a long 3-pointer and a putback of an offensive rebound. Maddie Pardeck converted a layup after making a steal, and the rout was on.
Williams had 17 first-half points and finished with 31 – her seventh game of 30 or more points in eight outings.
Even better in her coach’s eyes, Williams was able to be a passing and distributing point guard, running the offense and getting her teammates involved.
“It was a quiet (31),” Bough said. “It was within the flow, and she made some fantastic passes.”
Also doing damage on the offensive end were Garrison and Goodwin, who added 14 and 11 points, respectively.
Bough was able to go to his bench early and often in the second half, with the prospect of four games in four days facing his team.
“We got a lot of kids in, because four days is a marathon,” Bough said. “We had that fortune to be able to do that.”
The dominant all-around play for Branson continued in the second half.
Williams made a 3-pointer, then scored on a post-up move and the putback of an offensive rebound. Goodwin’s 3-pointer at the end of the quarter made it a 47-20 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Williams made another 3 and drained a short jumper, then took a seat after feeding Haley Johnson with a beautiful feed for a layup.
Garrison made back-to-back buckets, including the putback after grabbing an offensive board, to put the finishing touches on the victory.
It left Branson’s coach with only positives to reflect on.
“I was pleased with how we guarded, I was pleased with how we ran the ball, I was pleased with how we passed the ball ahead, I was pleased with how we shot it,” Bough said.
“I hope it was not an omen, like we used it all up. I was very pleased with how our kids played all around.”