South Callaway girls basketball played one of its better games this season, but New Bloomfield’s second-half offense was too much for the Lady Bulldogs.The Lady Wildcats marred South Callaway’s Senior Night, beating them 45-27 Monday in Mokane.Unlike the meeting between the teams last Wednesday, South Callaway controlled the game in certain instances. The Lady Bulldogs led four times, twice in both the first and third quarters.McKenzie Laughlin put South Callaway in front first, sinking a floater on its second possession of the game.Macie Abbott responded two possessions later for New Bloomfield, scoring a layup to tie the game at 2-2. However, Laughlin responded by hitting a layup after taking a pass from a throw-in.With South Callaway leading by as much as four points, the Lady Wildcats fought back and took their first lead of the contest late in the first quarter. New Bloomfield used two 3-pointers — each from a different player — to do that.Brinley Dysart’s left-corner 3 gave the Lady Wildcats an 8-6 lead, which was the final scoring play of the first quarter.The Lady Bulldogs had one of their better quarters of the season, scoring nine points, with Kelsey Wetherell notching five.New Bloomfield put up the first four points of the quarter, taking a 6-point lead before Wetherell responded for South Callaway.Wetherell scored the Lady Bulldogs’ first points of the second quarter when she landed a mid-range jumper. Then, after the Lady Wildcats scored two points on their ensuing possession, Wetherell drained a 3 off an assist from Lacey Matthews and reduced South Callaway’s deficit to three, 14-11.Wetherell led the Lady Bulldogs with seven points in the first half while tying Laughlin for a team-high 10 points.”That’s the best game of her career so far; she’s only a sophomore,” South Callaway coach Daniel Burns said. “She can play the top of our press, and it allows her to do the things she’s really good at. She’s long. She’s athletic. She was really aggressive, which allowed her to relax a little bit and not think so much about the offense side and play. She knocked down some big shots, and she generated a lot of our offense tonight.”After Wetherell started the second quarter strong offensively, she and South Callaway struggled in the latter part. Following Wetherell’s 3, the Lady Bulldogs only scored four points, but luckily for them, New Bloomfield scored just two in that time.Mathews put up the final points of the first half, scoring a putback that reduced South Callaway’s deficit to two points at halftime, 17-15.”I think maybe one of the better first halfs we played all season,” Burns said. “We did some different things tonight that we haven’t done. We had a little more pressure and mixed up some things on defense. And I think it gave the girls a little more energy, especially in the first half. It allowed us to generate a little more offense in the first half.”The Lady Bulldogs kept up their solid performance early in the third quarter. On South Callaway’s first drive of the half, Wetherell drained a top-of-the-arc 3 after Laughlin pulled down a board on the defensive end.Wetherell’s shot from deep gave South Callaway an 18-17 advantage. But New Bloomfield’s Brooklynn Smith answered with a 3 of her own to put the Lady Wildcats up 20-18.Playing her absolute best on her Senior Night, Matthews tied the game at 20-20 for the Lady Bulldogs after rebounding the ball on the defensive end and then scoring a jumper on the offensive side.Matthews’s defending and passing to teammates in scoring positions helped keep the contest close for South Callaway. She finished with six points and continues to improve, according to Burns.”She’s improved so much this year and over her four years, especially from when she was a freshman,” Burns said. She’s turned into our leader. Lacey’s tough; she’s rugged. She’s aggressive. She can be a challenge like she said in the announcement (laughs) sometimes. Nobody works hard; she’s come a long way as a player and leader for this team.”One of the standout underclassmen on the Lady Bulldogs’ team, Laughlin, made a floater that put South Callaway in front for the final time, 22-20.From there, the wheels fell off for the Lady Bulldogs, as New Bloomfield outscored them 25-5 after South Callaway took its final lead.Smith’s layup from a Dysart throw-in made it 24-22 New Bloomfield and gave the Lady Wildcats the advantage they held for the rest of the game. New Bloomfield showed its offensive firepower while staying on top, as their entire starting five scored in the second half.Smith guided a balanced Lady Wildcats offense, scoring a game-high 14 points. Abbott was just behind with 12 points for New Bloomfield.”I just thought we made a concentrated effort to throw the ball inside, tried to get it to Brooklynn inside, and let her let her to use some of her quickness in the post,” New Bloomfield coach Brett Craighead said. “That kind of changed the momentum a little bit, and we kind of got him in some foul trouble. I was pleased the way they came out in the second half and fought to beat a team three times.”The team offense led to the Lady Wildcats earning their first Show-Me Conference victory of the season while going 3-0 against South Callaway for the campaign.”It’s hard to beat a team three times,” Craighead said. “They played extremely hard this game. I mean, we beat them pretty good last time, but I thought they came out with a tremendous amount of energy, and I knew they would. I tried to get our girls to match their intensity, and I thought they did the second half.”It may not have been the result the Lady Bulldogs wanted on Senior Night, but Burns thought it was the team’s best performance this season.”I was proud with the energy and overall effort,” Burns said. “We were able to take the ball away. We rebounded pretty well in the first half. And then second half, we just ran out of gas and got tired and we struggled to score. Too many mental mistakes.”South Callaway (0-16) has an excellent chance to get its first victory when it takes on Calvary Lutheran (8-9) at 4:30 p.m. today in Jefferson City.”We’re excited, licking our chops and hoping tomorrow is our first win,” Burns said. “We’re trying different things out. So hopefully, maybe we can take care of business.”Meanwhile, New Bloomfield (6-14, 1-2) returns home for a Show-Me Conference game against Linn (12-7, 0-1) at 6 p.m. Thursday in New Bloomfield.”You get to play some different teams with our conference,” Craighead said. “Our conference is pretty good, so we’re going to have to work on some things and try to get better. And try to finish the season strong before districts.”

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