IRONTON – Bailey Skiles reaped the benefits once the West County girls basketball team made some halftime adjustments on Monday night.
The junior forward seemed unstoppable while pouring in 20 of her career-high 29 points during a stellar 5 ½-minute stretch of the third quarter.
Helped by defensive pressure that prevented Arcadia Valley from crossing midcourt numerous times, the Lady Bulldogs clinched their fourth straight unbeaten conference title.
Lilly James provided 15 points, including four 3-pointers, and point guard Alivia Simily distributed 11 assists in a 77-49 outcome that secured the Small-School division outright.
West County (16-3, 5-0) notched its seventh victory in a row and 19th consecutive in regular-season conference play, and likely locked down a first-round bye for the MAAA tournament.
Arcadia Valley (3-15, 3-2) was beset by 27 turnovers in the contest, but managed to stay within 32-23 after junior guard Katelyn Strange capped her explosive second quarter with a 3-pointer.
But the spotlight soon belonged to Skiles, who rapidly netted the first 14 points of the third stanza as her teammates created frontcourt steals and guided passes in her direction.
Four made field goals with a couple of Simily assists were followed by four converted free throws, and Skiles made the margin 46-23 by following her own missed layup through contact.
The Lady Bulldogs significantly reversed their fortunes from the line, draining 14-of-17 attempts during the second half after sputtering to a previous 8-of-19 showing.
Strange achieved her varsity best of 27 points for the Lady Tigers, who have shown steady improvement since their 0-12 start to the season.
But an opening 15-2 run by West County could not be overcome. James swished her first two triples with a driving 5-footer from Morgan Simily along the left baseline in between.
Three reserves connected on an excellent transition play moments later. Gracie Wright zipped a long diagonal pass to Kaytlen Hartley, who then found Alexis Hedgcorth open across the lane.
Hedgcorth claimed eight rebounds and equaled Wright with 11 points as four Lady Bulldogs achieved double figures. The visitors navigated the entire second period without suffering a turnover.
The sharp shooting and aggressive attacking by Strange, who made 9-of-11 free throws overall, helped AV settle down and hang tough for a while.
Ruth Francis passed to a wide-open Haley Blankenship for a layup, turning a disjointed possession into success and a sudden 22-16 deficit.
James countered out of a timeout with her third 3-pointer, and Hedgcorth worked inside to restore a 12-point lead prior to halftime. Skiles bumped it to 55-31 on two second-chance baskets late in the third quarter.
Strange capitalized from the perimeter when Alyssa Glanzer somehow escaped a triple team along the baseline, then struck again to bring the Lady Tigers within 57-40.
But the fourth quarter began with a steal and nifty scoop on the full sprint by Wright. Hedgcorth scored again for West County off connecting passes from Alivia Simily and Claire Stevens.
Hedgcorth bolstered a closing 10-0 push by the Lady Bulldogs by blocking a shot in the paint and dribbling all the way.
Glanzer finished with eight points and three assists for Arcadia Valley. Molly Cook chipped in six points.