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  • Lizzy Willis scores 24 to help beat Coffeyville

  • With it being Senior Night for the Pittsburg girls against the Coffeyville Golden Tornado, perhaps it was inevitable that senior forward Lizzy Willis delivered the goods and a 53-40 victory Thursday night with a game-high 24 points, seven rebounds and two assists.

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  • With it being Senior Night for the Pittsburg girls against the Coffeyville Golden Tornado, perhaps it was inevitable that senior forward Lizzy Willis delivered the goods and a 53-40 victory Thursday night with a game-high 24 points, seven rebounds and two assists.
    Willis made several big plays — her 3 at the beginning of the second half gave Pittsburg a 28-22 lead and her basket at the end of the third provided the Purple Dragons a 36-35 advantage entering the fourth. In the final stanza, she gave Pittsburg two-point leads at 40-38 and 42-40 before her old-fashioned three-point play made it 46-40 with 2:35 remaining.
    “She had a game-high of 24 points,” Pittsburg head coach Kim Peterson-O’Bray said. “She was all over the place, doing it all for us. More than that, she’s a leader for us, vocally and an inspirational leader for us as well. She did a good job all-around tonight.”
    Senior forward Alaura Short added 11 points, her first six on field goals and her last five on free throws. Short made 5-of-6 foul shots in the final 2:58, including her final pair with 3 ticks remaining. She matched Willis in rebounds with seven.
    Katy Short added eight points and four rebounds, Mercedes Vogel five points, two boards and two assists, Bethanne Elliott two points and six rebounds, and senior Brianna Maxwell three points, all on free throws.
    Willis, Alaura Short and Maxwell, three seniors, may have played their last home game.
    “It’s great because we don’t know if we’re going to have a first-round home game or if we’ll be away for substate,” Peterson-O’Bray said. “This may have been our last home game for the seniors, depending on how the records play out in the next week. If that was our last home game, that was a great one to go out on for the seniors.”
    The Purple Dragons improved to 12-6, 6-4 in the Southeast Kansas League. Coffeyville dropped to 7-11, 2-9 SEK.
    Pittsburg scored the last 13 points of the game and limited to Coffeyville to only five points in the fourth. The game went from 40-all to 53-40 in 3 minutes of crunch time.
    “We hit some free throws late in the game so that was good to see,” Peterson-O’Bray said. “Our free throw percentage was 79 so that was good. That could spread the game out and give us a little padding, a more comfortable lead. That was huge for us. Our defense really shut them down in the fourth quarter.”
    The Golden Tornado proved difficult to pull away from in the first half and for that matter, most all night. Pittsburg gained leads of 8-2 and 12-6 in the first quarter, as well as 25-19 late in the second, but never led by more than six the first 16 minutes.
    Page 2 of 3 - Coffeyville went ahead on a couple occasions in the second quarter, 14-12 after a 5-0 start to the quarter and 15-14 on a free throw split by Alexus Johnson.
    Three-point shots by the Johnsons, Alexus and Blair, kept the Golden Tornado within 25-22 at halftime, overcoming the 12 first half-points of Willis.
    Devin Cosper led Coffeyville with 11 points, Alexus Johnson scored nine before fouling out and 6-foot-1 senior Abbie Herkelman posted a near double-double of eight points, 10 rebounds.
    Pittsburg girls won the JV contest 56-36 with 11 points from Morgan Plank and 10 apiece from MaKayla Pichler and Sam Bollinger.
    Coffeyville boys 70, Pittsburg 66
    Pittsburg led for almost the first 26 minutes Thursday night against Southeast Kansas League champion Coffeyville.
    However, those last 6 minutes were mostly controlled by the Golden Tornado and after Pittsburg sophomore guard Montana Jajo hit a big 3 to draw Pittsburg to behind 65-64 with 26.2 seconds remaining, Coffeyville made five of its last six free throws after having a stretch of six consecutive misses.
    “That team makes it tough to finish against,” Pittsburg head coach Kiley Roelfs said. “There’s no doubt. That’s a really good basketball team but at the same time, we had opportunities . . . we knew they were going to make their runs. That team’s always going to make a run and they’re definitely not going to let you out of the gym without making at least a couple strong pushes right back at you.
    “We played well early and shot the ball well early to give us the lead and give us a chance to try to hold onto it. They’re a load to deal with but we need to find a way to deal with them and we couldn’t find enough of a way to . . . they’re hard to keep from getting to the basket and they did that well enough tonight. We just didn’t take good enough care of the ball at times and didn’t give enough stops.”
    Pittsburg senior wing Tanner Ellis started out strong with 10 first quarter points and fellow seniors Kaleb Owens and FeDor Lomax each chipped in three apiece, Owens on a 3 and Lomax on an old-fashioned three-point play. Blerim Selimi, making his first start, found himself in the middle of every loose ball.
    “That was a good basketball game,” Roelfs said. “That team is one of the best around if not the best in a big, big area. I thought we competed and played well for a long time. We had good energy to start. I thought Blerim Selimi, in his first start, got some rebounds and got the energy going. I thought our guys reacted to that well and we knocked down shots.”
    In a microcosm of the game, Pittsburg took a 16-4 lead on a shot by Ellis. By the end of the quarter, Coffeyville had answered with a rapid-fire 12-0 run, highlighted by a slam dunk by sensational junior guard James Newton.
    Page 3 of 3 - Newton recorded his second dunk in the second quarter to narrow the Pittsburg lead to 35-31 but Ellis knocked down a shot at the buzzer to make it 37-31 at the half.
    The Purple Dragons led 50-46 late in the third but the Golden Tornado scored four straight points off Pittsburg turnovers (baskets from Jamal Logan and Darren Lewis) to knot the game at 50 headed into the fourth.
    Ellis knocked down his fourth 3 of the game to stake Pittsburg to a 53-50 lead but Coffeyville quickly summoned up a 6-0 run and never trailed again.
    Newton led all scorers with 32 points (no doubt helping out his 18.1 scoring average) and joining him in double figures were Darren Lewis with 12 and Darren Deffebaugh with 10. Deffebaugh threw down a two-hand jam off a lob, giving Coffeyville a 64-61 lead.
    Ellis led Pittsburg with 20 points, highlighted by his strong opening stanza. Inside muscle Stefon Rich and FeDor Lomax both played strong inside — causing Coffeyville head coach Tyler Thompson to repeatedly stress the fundamentals of getting a body on somebody inside — and Rich finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and Lomax posted a double-double of 12 points, 13 rebounds. Owens added nine points, all on trifectas.
    Pittsburg dropped to 10-8, 4-6 SEK and Coffeyville improved to 15-3, 10-1. The Golden Tornado host the Frontenac Raiders tonight.

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