PARK HILLS — With the Potosi and Central girls basketball teams having already split four previous meetings this season, it was expected that Monday night’s Class 4, District 2 contest would also be closely contested.
Potosi surged ahead behind strong defense during the second quarter, and survived a desperate Central rally in the closing minutes for a 37-35, opening-round victory and the upper hand in the season series.
Ashley Thompson posted game highs with 13 points and five blocks, and Kelsey Fitzwater added nine points with eight rebounds for the Lady Trojans, who will face top-seeded Farmington in a semifinal game on Wednesday.
The triumph guaranteed resurgent Potosi (13-12) at least a .500 record, further punctuating a successful turn-around after the program ended last season winless.
Both teams finished near the 30-turnover mark, but Potosi turned a couple of its steals directly into points before halftime, including a go-ahead driving layup from junior Jordan Harbison.
Thompson converted a three-point play after catching a sideline inbounds pass from Fitzwater near the basket, and the Lady Trojans produced a 13-1 scoring spurt to lead 23-14 at intermission.
Point guard Ashley Duncan collected five assists, including a sharp entry pass to Lyndsey Portell that restored the nine-point advantage, but Central fought back with its own defensive pressure.
Stacey Williams and Erin St. Gemme each scored when Potosi failed to cross the midcourt stripe late in the third quarter, and a jumper from Melanee Cunningham trimmed the margin to 29-27 with 5:31 remaining.
The Lady Rebels twice pulled within two points during the final minute after Potosi extended its lead, but wasted two chances to draw even when the Lady Trojans failed to convert free throws.
Potosi induced a double dribble with seven seconds left, and Duncan stole a final outlet pass near midcourt to seal the outcome.
Stacey Williams scored nine points to pace Central (9-16), which could potentially return its entire roster next season. Amanda Williams finished with eight points, and Cunningham matched Riley Owens with seven each.
Owens banked in a short jumper as the first-quarter buzzer sounded, and put the Lady Rebels ahead 13-10 with a layup moments later.
The second opening-round game played at Park Hills saw third-seeded De Soto cruise past Festus 56-23. The Lady Dragons will play North County in the semifinal round.
Potosi 9 14 6 8 – 37
Central 11 3 10 11 – 35
Potosi – Thompson 13, Fitzwater 9, Duncan 6, Harbison 2, Smith 2, Logsden 2, Portell 2, Thurmond 1. 3-point FG – Thompson.
Central – S Williams 9, A Williams 8, Me Cunningham 7, Owens 7, St. Gemme 4. 3-point FG – Me Cunningham.