Nixa’s balance overcame Branson’s star.
Getting key contributions from their lesser-known players, the Lady Eagles pulled away from Branson for a 48-38 Central Ozark Conference win Thursday in Branson.
High-scoring guard Toshua Leavitt led Nixa with 17 points, but it was forwards Angie Allen, Alexis Holt and Payton Klempel who were the catalysts as the Lady Eagles improved to 18-3 overall and 2-0 in COC play.
“I’m glad we overcame Jeana (Raper) and Tosh not shooting well. We had a lot of different people step up,” said Allen, who finished with 11 points, six rebounds and one chipped tooth after a collision with a Branson player.
“It’s something we needed, and it should give us confidence going forward.”
Raper, Nixa’s leading scorer, was held to four points on 1-of-6 shooting. Leavitt scored 11 of Nixa’s first 19 points, but finished 6 of 15 from the floor.
Klempel, a senior, had eight points on 3-of-4 shooting and added six rebounds. Holt came off the bench to score eight points, including six in a row in the third quarter after Branson had pulled to within one point.
“Everything was hard to come by. We were looking for one little thing to get us going,” Nixa coach Jim Middleton said. “It was like, we’re not looking for cookies, we’re looking for crumbs.
“We made a good turn at half. and did a lot of things well.”
Nixa got out to an 8-2 lead and trailed only for 17 seconds in the second quarter.
After Branson tied the game at 30 with 2:33 left in the third quarter, the Lady Eagles outscored the Lady Pirates 18-8 to end the game.
Branson had just three field goals over the game’s last 10 minutes, 33 seconds.
“Where we needed shots in the second half, we just couldn’t get them,” Branson coach Kip Bough said. “We got looks, we just couldn’t get anything to go down.”
Branson finished 3 of 15 from 3-point range.
Only senior Moriah Dapprich reached double figures for the Lady Pirates, finishing with 18 points and five rebounds.
The Wichita State recruit reached the 1,000-point plateau on her first basket of the game in the first quarter. Her sister Michaela, a freshman for the Shockers, reached 1,000 points last season as a senior at Branson.
“It’s always fun to have a kid reach a milestone like that,” Bough said. “It was nice that she only had two points to get there. We called a set play on our first possession and got it out of the way.”
Nixa held Dapprich to seven points in the second half, and just two over the game’s final 12:09. Jessie Barton was the only other Lady Pirate to score more than five points, finishing with seven.
“We’re learning how to play wisely,” Middleton said. “How to get a lead and maintain it, how to get to the free-throw line. And we played solid defense. It was, for the most part, one-and-done for them in the second half.”
Branson shot 5 for 21 (24 percent) in the second half.
Leavitt, after hitting four of her first five shots and then missing eight in a row, hit her final two in the fourth quarter to spark a 7-0 Nixa run that extended the lead to 12 points with 45 seconds to go.
Nixa was 8-for-10 from the free throw line in the final eight minutes and 13-for-16 for the game.
“We knew it would be physical. It always is in the COC,” Allen said. “We just worked the ball (in the fourth quarter). We knew we were ahead so we didn’t have to score.”