CHEROKEE — The Southeast Lancer girls basketball team were left to wait for their first win of the season, losing to the Baxter Springs Lions, 61-42 in the Southeast Girls Lancer Classic Tournament in Cherokee on Monday night.
Baxter Springs turned a 28-12 halftime lead into a 20 point advantage in a game where the Lions only trailed twice.
The Lancers (0-8), who were only three days removed from their 47-32 loss to Galena last Friday, couldn’t make up enough ground in the second half after the shots started to fall.
“We played Galena on Friday and we played hard from the start to the end and got a short rotation and it caught up to us tonight,” said Southeast head coach Derek Sanders. “I don’t know if we had a hangover in this game but we didn’t play with a lot of intensity in the first half. I challenged our players at the half, and we came out and looked more like ourselves.”
With the win, the Lions will advance to the semi finals on Thursday night. The Lancers will play the remainder of the tournament in the consolation bracket. Southeast will play at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
“We’ve got to get back to the toughness that we played on Friday night,” Sanders said. “We did a better job in the second half and hopefully, the energy in the second half will carry over to our next game.”
Riley Abernathy scored 13 points to lead the Lions while Carly Lock and Alexis Pena each had 10. Hannah White and Cheyenna Von Moss scored nine points each.
“We finally became aggressive and when we do that, it helps our offense,” said Baxter Springs head coach Kris Crotts. “We made our mind up to take the ball, the offense woke up. Southeast played great defense and came out in a form that caught us off guard. We were able to hit some shots to get control.”
Bitner scored 13 points for the Lancers while Bailee Ulery had 11. MaKayla Buffington and Sailor Jackson each put up five points.
Kayln Bitner scored Southeast’s first three field goals of the night while Abernathy and Locke were the only other players from either side to get on the score sheet in the first quarter as the Lions took a 7-6 in a defensive heavy start.
Hailey Horn’s three point play at the start of the second quarter gave the Lions a 10-6 advantage.
Buffington became the second Southeast player to register a basket, going 1-2 on her first trip to the line.
Field goals from Von Moss and Horn, along with a couple of Southeast turnovers, allowed Baxter Springs to go up by nine.
Ulery hit a 3-pointer and the Lancers’ deficit was down to nine with less than three minutes in the second quarter.
Abernathy would score from the backboard off an inbound pass. Locke added a 3-pointer and the Lions had a halftime lead of 28-12.
The Lions opened up the second half with a 10-4 run.
A three-point play by Pena made it 43-19, Baxter Springs with 2:17 in the third.
Bitner scored her first field goal since the first quarter while drawing a foul. She was unable to finish the three point play but would make up for it shortly after converting from the inside on another shooting foul.
“I thought we were more decisive offensively in the third quarter,” Crotts said. "In the third, we started to play good defense and when you play good defense, it allows you to score points. We were able to get easy points in the third.”
While the Lancers tried to narrow the deficit, the Lions were able to keep their distance from the free throw line, hitting 12 of them in the fourth quarter alone.
“Those will come back to get you,” Sanders said. “I thought we did a better job of attacking in the second half and getting to the rim but we’ve got to eliminate those stupid fouls so that we can keep them off the line and stay out of foul trouble.”
Baxter Springs finished 16 of 26 from the line.
“Our girls shot well from the line,” Crotts said. “I’ll be honest, it’s on their poise to step up and knock them down. That’s huge in a game like this to extend the lead and get out of here in the fourth a little bit easier.”