Branson High School senior Jessie Barton has seen this act before.
After a slow start, the Lady Pirates found their groove in the second quarter and ran away from host Catholic for a 50-34 victory Monday night.
“I see that a lot with this team,” Barton said. “It takes us a few minutes to get into the flow of the game, but once we do it’s great.”
Branson might have had an excuse Monday, with senior Moriah Dapprich not in the starting lineup due to disciplinary reasons, according to coach Kip Bough. But the complexion of the game changed when Dapprich — a Wichita State signee — entered with 1:11 left in the first quarter.
After a lackluster period that ended with a 9-6 Branson lead, the Lady Pirates were able to put some distance between themselves and the Lady Irish. Barton’s 3-pointer with 2:20 remaining in the half capped a 9-0 Branson run and helped push the Lady Pirates to a 30-16 halftime edge.
“I think Moriah coming in kind of settled the kids down a little bit,” Bough said. “Plus our defense does fuel our offense. We’ve started off very slow and then as the game goes on, the other team gets worn down a little bit and our offense picks up.”
Dapprich and freshman Ashley Forrest each scored seven points in the second quarter as Branson seemed to find its offense with the star back on the floor.
“I think not only the physical part of the game and what she brings to the game, but it kind of looked liked it set a different mental tone for everybody,” Catholic coach Josh Miller said about Dapprich coming in. “It looked like it put us on our mental heels a little bit, which is unfortunate.
“We were hanging with them and things changed.”
A three-pointer by Catholic’s Emma Thomas cut the lead to 13 (44-31) with 3:49 left in the game, but that was as close as the Lady Irish would get after halftime.
It was a frustrating night for Catholic, which committed 21 turnovers. Branson’s pressure defense — led by Barton’s tenacious dogging of the Lady Irish point guards — helped kickstart its own stagnant offense.
“(Branson) did a good job pressuring our guards and flustering us a little bit,” Miller said. “The offense we run is generated in hopes of that. But we had some girls that didn’t handle the ball very well tonight and didn’t make the decisions we needed to make.
“Tonight was a rough night.”
Dapprich led all scorers with 14 points and added 11 rebounds off the bench. Barton added 12 points and Hadley Blake scored 10 for the Lady Pirates (5-3).
Madison Robertson led Catholic (2-3) with 11 points and eight rebounds, and Thomas added 10 points.