It would be easy to call Webb City’s victory over West Plains an upset.
The unranked Lady Cardinals toppled the No. 2-ranked Lady Zizzers 57-42 Wednesday night at Ozark High School in the Class 4 sectionals, but a closer inspection might not reveal much of a surprise.
First of all, Webb City (23-5) ran through the gauntlet that is the Central Ozark Conference Large Division — its five losses were to conference champs and Class 5 Ozark, Class 5 quarterfinalist Nixa (twice), Class 4 state-ranked Republic and Harrison, Ark.
Secondly, West Plains (27-2) ran roughshod through a down year in the Ozark Conference and had played in two single-digit outcomes all year — a loss to Ash Grove in the Pink and White Lady Classic and a buzzer-beating overtime win over Republic in last week’s district finals.
“They were ranked and we weren’t,” Webb City junior Mikaela Burgess said. “We kind of came in with a chip on our shoulder. The COC is tough and it gets you ready.”
With the win, Webb City advances to Saturday’s quarterfinal at Drury’s O’Reilly Family Event Center. The Lady Cardinals, who don’t have a senior, will play Sullivan at 2:45 p.m.
But it really was confluence of several factors. Webb City coach Brad Shorter’s decision to go to a two-three zone in the second half, combined with an awful shooting night for West Plains, had a lot to say about the outcome.
“Maybe our worst game of the year, but I think Webb City had something to do with that,” West Plains coach Scott Womack said. “I thought when they guarded us man, it was hard for them to guard us. They got the lead and went to the zone and we really struggled.”
The timing of it was important as the teams fought tooth and nail for an edge through the first two-and-a-half quarters. After West Plains built a 32-29 lead midway through the third, the Lady Cardinals went to the zone and the momentum shifted.
Nearly eight minutes later, Webb City had gone on a 15-0 run and led 44-32 with 4:42 left after consecutive 3-pointers by Burgess. The zone came from film work after Shorter and his staff saw West Plains’ Andi Haney dominate Republic in the third quarter last Friday to rally the Lady Zizzers by attacking the basket.
Burgess played the dagger all night long. She scored 22 points — 11 in the fourth quarter — and made four 3-pointers.
Haney ended a decorated career at West Plains with 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists.