BONNE TERRE – The North County girls basketball team relied on a low-post attack from sophomore Kayleigh Winch after De Soto lessened its turnovers in the second half on Monday.
Winch recorded the only three baskets for the Lady Raiders during the third quarter, as their previously effective transition offense stalled following halftime. She tallied 17 of her game-high 24 points after the break, and added 11 rebounds in the 55-42 victory.
Each team was held scoreless during the first two minutes of the third period due to stout interior defense. Winch notched two of her four blocks during that span, while Rose Thomas denied a shot for the Lady Dragons.
Stephanie Peterson was fouled on a 3-point attempt, then sank all three of the resulting free throws to contribute the only other points for North County (6-6) during the third quarter.
De Soto (3-9) scored on back-to-back turnovers within the final minute of the period to trim the deficit within 41-32.
Winch remained dominant near the basket, and went 4-of-5 from the stripe during the fourth quarter to keep a steady lead.
Madalyn Bone drained two contested jump shots in transition down the stretch in attempt to keep De Soto close, but the Dragons struggled to impede North County in the post.
Bone paced De Soto with 13 points, including two 3-pointers plus six rebounds. Sarah-Kate Peoples drained three shots from the perimeter, and finished with 11 points in the loss.
The Dragons claimed an early 6-5 lead after the second 3-pointer by Peoples with three minutes to play in the first quarter. However, the Lady Raiders then sparked a 9-0 run with excellent perimeter defense that resulted in transition offense.
North County remained powerful on the fast break, while De Soto settled for tough jumpers during the remainder of the first quarter. Winch dropped in her first basket on a fadeaway shot in the post over two defenders, and stretched the advantage to 17-8 with 10 seconds on the clock.
The Lady Raiders were careless with the ball early in the second period, and were rendered scoreless for more than two minutes.
Julia Christopher drilled her second 3-pointer and first basket of the quarter for North County for a 20-10 lead with 5:35 to play.
North County closed out the first half with layups on its final three possessions, and held a 31-20 advantage at the break.
Peterson finished with 11 points in the win, while Ella Gant and Morgan Johnston each contributed eight rebounds.
Kendall Boyer posted eight points and seven rebounds for De Soto.
The Lady Raiders will host St. Clair on Tuesday, before the start of conference play against Fredericktown on Thursday.