The Nixa Lady Eagles started it with defense and ended it with defense.
In between they got things done with offense.
Holding Mount Vernon to one point in the second half, and hitting nine 3-pointers before halftime, Nixa pulled away for a 51-19 win Monday night in Nixa.
“We’ve got a lot of players who are skilled offensively,” Nixa coach Jim Middleton said. “What we’re trying to teach them to do is think defense. And they’re showing signs.”
The Lady Eagles threw up a stop sign for the last 19 minutes of the game.
Mount Vernon’s last basket came at the 3:01 mark of the second quarter, and cut Nixa’s lead to eight points.
But the Lady Mountaineers made just two free throws the rest of the game — one at the end of the second quarter and one at the start of the fourth period.
Mount Vernon was 0-for-11 from the field in the second half. That came after not getting a shot off for the first four minutes of the first quarter.
“Defense has been one of our main keys,” senior guard Jeana Raper said. “Our defense predicates our offense.”
Using a mix of full court, three-quarter court, and half-court pressure, Nixa (3-0) hounded a Mount Vernon team playing without starting point Mackenzie Farmer. Farmer suffered a concussion at the end of Mount Vernon’s game last week against Republic.
“Obviously missing our point guard had a lot to do with (our struggles),” Mount Vernon coach Jamie LaSalle said. “Our offense was stagnant in the half court.”
Audrey LaSalle led the Lady Mountaineers (2-2) with nine points, all coming on 3-pointers in Mount Vernon’s 14-point second quarter. No other Lady Mountaineer had more than three points. Senior Tamiaya Henderson was held to two points, but had a game-high six rebounds and four blocked shots.
“That’s about the only time we hit anything all game,” Jamie LaSalle said. “This team has a long way to go, but I think we’ll get there. We have a huge upside.”
Meanwhile Raper led a Nixa barrage from beyond the 3-point line.
The senior scored 19 points, including 17 in the first half. She hit five 3-pointers as Nixa continually found openings against Mount Vernon’s zone.
Schyler Thompson hit a pair of 3-pointers on her way to 10 points, and freshman Shelby Ewing came off the bench to score eight points and grab a team-high five rebounds.
Tosh Leavitt also hit two 3-pointers as Nixa finished 10 of 18 from 3-point range and 9 for 25 from inside the arc.
The Eagles were 9 of 13 from beyond the arc in the first half while going 3-for-13 from 2-point range before halftime.
“Their zone is as good as anybody we’ll play this year,” Middleton said. “I’m not saying we’re going to do that all time time, but we took good shots. We found openings and our feet were set, so it was just catch and shoot.”
Nixa’s last seven baskets of the first half came from 3-point range. The Lady Eagles missed all seven of their two-point attempts in the second quarter.
“It’s great to know that we have a lot of outside shooters who can get the job done,” Raper said. “It’s not just one or two players.”
Nixa will next play at the Joplin Invitational, starting Thursday. Mount Vernon is at Carthage on Thursday.