PARK HILLS – Despite being seeded directly above quarterfinal opponent North County in the MAAA girls tournament field, Arcadia Valley performed like a team with something to prove.
The Lady Tigers have found a higher level of consistency since being soundly defeated 58-39 by the Lady Raiders three weeks ago, and chalked up their seventh consecutive win on Monday.
Arcadia Valley enjoyed a dominant third quarter in the rematch, and avenged that most recent 19-point setback by taking down reigning champion North County 60-53.
Freshman guard Gracee Smith scored a game-high 20 points, including eight during a pivotal 14-2 spurt that turned a 30-29 halftime deficit into a 43-32 lead.
Josie Landrum totaled 17 points with eight rebounds, and Katie Whited produced nine assists as Arcadia Valley (13-8) advanced to face top seed Central on Thursday.
Freshman Ella Gant equaled Landrum with four 3-pointers during the first half, and netted 16 points for North County (11-10) while forward Kayleigh Winch had 14 points plus six rebounds.
Winch scored a putback after Stephanie Peterson connected from the left corner, and Michaela Mason followed another miss for the go-ahead basket heading into the break.
Smith sparked AV by calmly drilling consecutive triples, however, and split two defenders on a slashing layup moments later. Two free throws by Whited made the margin 43-32.
The Lady Raiders cooled off from the perimeter, and suffered costly miscues while struggling to connect on passes to Winch after committing only two first-half turnovers.
Landrum saved an offensive rebound to a teammate along the baseline, then secured the subsequent miss for a third-chance basket just before the third quarter expired to restore a 49-39 lead.
Arcadia Valley operated under a more deliberate pace while trying to remain in front, but watched the Lady Raiders mount a comeback threat down the stretch.
Winch cashed in a conventional 3-point play on a second shot, and Peterson swished a triple with 1:57 left as the difference shrunk to 54-51.
North County would miss a mid-range jumper after getting a needed defensive stop, and Smith gave Arcadia Valley some breathing room on a perfect trip to the line with 46 seconds to play.
Makayla Moise – the lone senior starter for either club – tacked on four more free throws to complete her double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Jaesa Brockes finished with eight points and eight rebounds, and opened the game with a 3-pointer for the Lady Tigers before two Gant triples ignited a 9-0 North County response.
Two field goals by Winch extended the lead to 15-9, but Landrum sank a running three at the buzzer for the Lady Tigers, who soon built a 24-18 cushion in the second quarter.
Alyssa Huber made four assists, and Mason pulled away six rebounds for the Lady Raiders, who will play Potosi on Friday in the fifth-place bracket.
Central 60, Potosi 16
PARK HILLS – Another showcase of smothering defense on Monday exhibited why Central has cemented its status as the prohibitive favorite in the girls bracket of the MAAA Tournament.
The top-seeded Lady Rebels limited Potosi to four made field goals – including a drought that spanned nearly 11 minutes of the first half – and notched their 14th consecutive win.
Skyler Amonette tallied 13 points plus three steals, and Caitlyn Holmes scored 12 points before turning things over to the bench in a 60-16 quarterfinal rout.
Freshman Sophia Horton chipped in nine points with seven rebounds, and opened the contest with a putback as 13 different Central players marked the scoring column.
The Lady Rebels (20-1) clinched their fifth consecutive 20-win campaign, and will face Arcadia Valley in the semifinal round on Thursday.
Disruptive pressure near midcourt created nine Potosi turnovers in the first quarter. Holmes knocked down a 16-footer off an Amonette steal, then capped a quick start with a transition layup.
Karissa Belfield and Callie Thurston added jumpers as the margin reached 18-2, and sophomore Avery Norris finished a drive to make it 24-3 in the second quarter.
Potosi was already without the services of starting guard Jayleen Like due to an ankle injury suffered following a first-round victory over Valley on Saturday.
Senior standout Mackenzie Adams crumpled to the floor and was holding her left knee after falling in the first quarter, but returned to drill a pair of 3-point shots before halftime.
But Central carried a 33-10 advantage at intermission after Amonette nailed a triple of her own at the buzzer, and poured on a 15-0 run covering the first six minutes of the third quarter.
Aubree Eaton capped the stanza with a driving layup for a 50-13 separation. Teammates Abby Holmes, Kaley Kimball, Hailee Coleman and Hannah Coleman added baskets from there.
Adams finished with nine points, and was the sole owner of a made field goal for Potosi (9-11) until Madison Smith connected from the perimeter with 1:31 left in the game.
Olivia Coleman had three steals, and matched Cameryn Yount with five rebounds for the Lady Trojans.