Mount Vernon keeps ball away from Lady Cats

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Nov. 9, 2007 - COMMERCE - The Sulphur Springs Lady Cats had a tough lesson reinforced Friday evening - it's hard to score without the basketball.

Facing the Mount Vernon Lady Tigers in the semifinals of the Commerce Winter Classic, the Lady Cats turned the ball over 31 times and were able to come up with just four offensive rebounds in a 64-29 defeat.

Mount Vernon took advantage of having 17 fewer turnovers and seven more offensive rebounds by putting up 15 more shots from the field and taking six more free throw attempts.

MV senior Aly Sherman led the assault with 22 points, five rebounds, eight steals and five assists. Cristy Whitlock knocked down four 3-pointers en route to 14 points.

Sulphur Springs countered with a 10-point, five-rebound effort from senior post Starkeisha Wright and seven points from sophomore Stefanie Pruitt.

But, with the Lady Cats' outside shots not falling (1-for-10 from beyond the arc), they couldn't make up for their turnover total.

The opening four minutes were a uncomfortable sign of things to come for the Lady Cats, who turned the ball over on nine of their first 10 possessions. The exception was a low-post bucket by Wright off an entry pass from Pruitt.

That tied the game at 2-2 three minutes into the game because Mount Vernon missed six of its first seven shots. But, once the Lady Tigers started hitting, they starting putting some distance between themselves and the Lady Cats.

Whitlock hit a pair of 3-pointers to get the MV advantage to 13-2 before Wright again scored in the low block. Wright had all six of SSHS' points in the first period, which ended with the Lady Cats facing a 16-6 deficit.

In the second period, Pruitt had four of the Lady Cats' six points, with Delandria Pryor scoring on a floater in the lane with a minute to play before halftime that cut the lead to 27-12.

MV's Sherman scored eight of her points in the third quarter as the MV lead reached 45-19. Pruitt hit a 3-pointer 90 seconds into the period, but after that the Lady Cats went almost 10 minutes without a field goal. The streak was broken when Ashanti Ivery got an offensive rebound and fed Talea Reynolds for a bucket in the lane with 4:20 to play in the game.

Once the streak was broken, the Lady Cats hit three consecutive field goals, as junior point guard Mackenzie Cross came up with a backcourt steal and lay-up, then hit a jumper across the lane that put the score at 55-26. The last field goal for SSHS came when Jessica Savage hit a 12-foot jumper with 1:24 left.

Mount Vernon hit 6-of-11 from behind the 3-point arc and shot 46 percent from the field overall (22-of-48). The Lady Cats meanwhile hit 10-of-33 (30.3 percent) from the field.

MV also came up with 11 offensive rebounds, compared to four for Sulphur Springs, and had 14 turnovers, which which was less half of the Lady Cats' 31.

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