WARRENSBURG — Smith-Cotton and Warrensburg added another chapter to their athletics rivalry. And, while Tuesday’s backdrop at Warrensburg High School was brim with students and adults from both towns, the outcomes were less dramatic as the girls’ basketball team dropped a game and the boys prevailed.
Warrensburg 40, Smith-Cotton 36
The pass floated for a moment too long. Hally Piontek, notorious for stealing passes and converting them into points, leapt in front of one more Smith-Cotton pass late in the fourth quarter, with similar results.
After Piontek’s layup fell, Warrensburg would never trail again, defeating the visiting S-C Lady Tigers 40-36 Tuesday.
Smith-Cotton failed to shoot a field goal – to tie or to win – in their final four possessions.
Head coach Zach Vandevender said errors hurt S-C down the stretch.
“All year we tried to get ourselves in position to be competitive at the end,” Vandevender said. “At the end, there were some mental lapses.”
Piontek led Warrensburg with 12 points. Her layup to seal the game came with one minute to play and pushed their lead to 38-36. When Smith-Cotton intentionally fouled, she and Allie Rhone provided two free throws to seal the game.
Rhone scored eight for the Lady Tigers. Monique Grant led Smith-Cotton with 12 points.
Warrensburg led 8-5 after one quarter. A 3-pointer from Nia Hawkins gave Smith-Cotton their first lead of the night. Piontek put Warrensburg back up by going 1-2 from the free-throw line in two consecutive possessions.
Smith-Cotton led once again in the fourth quarter when Grant rebounded an air ball miss, and was fouled on the way back up. She made the field goal and free throw to give the visiting Lady Tigers their final lead of the game at 36-33.
Emily Sharpe scored a 3-pointer on the next possession to tie. She finished with six points.
Smith-Cotton 66, Warrensburg 60
Warrensburg High School was loud. “The Eye of the Tiger” by Journey was loud. The Warrensburg cheering section was loud. The Smith-Cotton student section was loud.
Yet, despite the atmosphere, Smith-Cotton stayed composed and outlasted the hosting Tigers 66-60.
S-C head coach Brennan Scanlon said the matchup was just another game.
“I guess it’s a rivalry,” Scanlon said. “Every game for us is a big game. The kids were ready to play and for the most part they played well.”
Gavin Jones led Smith-Cotton with 25 points. He hit two 3-pointers and was 7-for-8 from the free-throw line. Dante Scroggins added 11 points.
After a low-offense first quarter, Smith-Cotton outscored Warrensburg 24-22 in the second and entered halftime leading 33-30.
Smith-Cotton took many of the same shots – pull up jumpers and 3-pointers – they shot in the first half in the second. In the second half, however, they were going in.
Scanlon said the team stuck to their game plan to pull away from Warrensburg.
“We didn’t do anything special,” Scanlon said about their second-half performance. “We just hit some shots, tried to take care of the ball, sit down and guard somebody and play good team defense. There’s no secret remedy, just do the things we’ve been doing all year.”
Scroggins knocked down the boisterous Warrensburg crowd and extended the team lead to 10 with a two-handed dunk two minutes into the final quarter.
Maison DeVries led Warrensburg with 24 points. Gunny Nappe, who finished with 7 points for Warrensburg, bounced in a 3-pointer before the finals seconds ticked away.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2