The longer Nixa High School’s girls’ basketball team kept hitting 3-pointers, the tougher it got for Marionville to keep up.
Sophomore Toshua Leavitt led a Nixa onslaught from 3-point range as the Lady Eagles pulled away from Marionville for a 64-45 win Thursday in the second round of the White Division of the Pink and White Lady Classic at Drury’s O’Reilly Family Event Center.
Nixa will play Republic at 7 p.m. today in the White Division semifinals at O’Reilly. Republic won last year’s matchup, 42-34.
And Middleton doesn’t expect anything different this time around.
“We all know each other. It’s two (Central Ozark Conference) teams. … We’re looking forward to playing a defending state champion,” Middleton said.
“I think it’s two teams that like to get out and pressure, and whoever can keep the turnovers down and get some open looks and knock them down, which there aren’t going to be many, that’s going to be the tale of the game.”
Nixa (10-1) was in a battle for most of the first three quarters Thursday night before the Lady Eagles’ relentless offensive pressure took over. Nixa finished 9 of 15 from 3-point range while going just 11 of 30 from inside the arc.
Despite Leavitt hitting her first five 3-point attempts, including four in the first quarter, and scoring 18 points in the first three periods, Marionville never let the Nixa lead grow larger than 15 points.
The Lady Comets were within seven and had the ball with 2:16 left in the third quarter after an 8-0 run, but a turnover led to a Shelby Ewing 3-pointer to extend the Nixa lead back to 10 and spark a 19-4 run that lasted until the midway point of the fourth period.
The run ended, fittingly, when Leavitt converted a basket, was fouled and hit the free throw for her final three points of the game to give Nixa a 62-40 lead.
“We were really trying to work on getting the ball inside. I was really disappointed in the first half with our posts not wanting to post up,” Middleton said. “When we did in the second half, we had a lot better balance on the scoring side. Any time the ball goes inside, it’s a good thing.”
Leavitt finished with a career-high 23 points for Nixa, going 6 of 8 from 3-point range. Angie Allen added 10 points and six rebounds and Alex Sorenson came off the bench for nine points and seven rebounds.
Jaycie Dishman had 17 points and four rebounds to lead Marionville (9-3). The sophomore did her best to match Leavitt, hitting three 3-pointers in the first quarter and scoring 11 points before halftime.
Josie Young scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half for the Lady Comets, and added five rebounds. Whitney Wright scored nine points.
“We didn’t do a very good job defensively of getting over screens and stuff, but I think the big difference was they were 15 of 20 at the (free-throw) line and we were 2 of 5,” Marionville coach Ted Young said.
“Which says we stood around and accepted jump shots and they were more aggressive on the offensive end.”