BONNE TERRE — The North County Lady Raiders made three-pointers and free throws in the final quarter to complete a come-from-behind 76-69 win over the Cape Central Lady Tigers.
Trailing by seven going into the last eight minutes of play, it took a little while before the Lady Raiders made a serious threat to the visiting team.
Their leading scorer, Kassi Hovis, had to take a seat with four fouls early in the quarter, but as time began to dwindle and the Lady Raiders had not cut into the lead, Hovis came back on the floor and took charge of the scoring department. Hitting two threes for her first shots Hovis also made seven of eight free throws to cap off a 29-point night.
The Lady Raiders made 16-18 free throws in the fourth quarter, and they were 25-33 in the game for a 76 percent average. The free throws and making 10-20 on their three pointers, made the difference for North County.
The Lady Tigers were 9-9 on free throws and they shot 51 percent from the floor, making 10 more baskets than the Lady Raiders. Cape Central did not have one three-pointer in the game, going 0-4 with three of the attempts coming in the final seconds of the game.
Cape Central made four straight steals to run away to a 10-2 score after the opening tip. Courtney Coulter got the Lady Raiders jump-started by hitting her first two shots from beyond the arc. Brittany Collins made two putbacks and was fouled on a third to sink two free throws to help keep the Lady Raiders within striking distance.
The Lady Tigers utilized their height advantage in the second quarter by lobbing the ball in to their center 6’3” Wendi Zickfield. Once she had the ball, Zickfield was money as she scored 12 of her game-high 30 points in the quarter. Zickfield also led the rebounding category with 11 boards.
The Lady Raiders would have been blown out in the quarter, but they again dialed long distance with Rilea Huff and Coulter connecting on one three each, followed by a driving lay-up from Hovis to make it a one-point game at 28-27.
The Lady Raiders finally caught up to the Lady Tigers on a three pointer by Huff to tie the game at 34-34. The tie must have woke up the Lady Tigers as Michaela Durham made a putback and Sadie Pittman made a steal of North County’s inbound pass, converting it quickly into a conventional three at the buzzer.
Hovis made a steal and then hit a three to start the third quarter, but Chelsea Pannier scored three straight baskets and Zickfield ran off another three to give the Lady Tigers a 10-point lead.
North County (8-5) made two more three-pointers in the quarter, but could get no closer than 59-52 before their take-over of the fourth quarter.
Coulter led the Lady Raiders in rebounds with nine, and Collins had seven. Hovis gave the Lady Tigers fits at half-court, making six steals and converting most of them into points.
Cape Central tried to sit on the ball with 4:40 left in the game and only up by four points, but their turnovers gave North County the opportunity it needed to catch up. Hovis made two free throws to tie the game at 63 with 3:14 still on the clock. She scored again upon making her sixth steal to give the Lady Raiders the lead 67-65.
A pair of free throws by Coulter gave the Lady Raiders the lead again at 69-67, and they would not trail again as the Lady Tigers could not connect and were forced to foul to try and get the ball back in the final two minutes of play, but North County’s defense shut down Zickfield and the Lady Tigers, and the Lady Raiders free throws put the game out of reach.
North County will host Farmington on Thursday for their first conference game.
Cape Central 18 21 20 10 – 69
North County 15 19 18 24 – 76
Cape Central – Zickfield 30, Pittman 19, Pannier 12, Durham 4, Myers 2, Smith 2. 3-pt. FG – none.
North County – Hovis 29, Coulter 25, Huff 9, Collins 9, Bullock 4. 3-pt. FG – Hovis 4, Coulter 4, Huff 2.