Lady Wildcats headed back to the Final Four


                                                                                                                     Photo by Shari Harris
The community supported the team with a grand send-off Saturday morning.

By Coach Steve Rissler

The Licking Lady Wildcats punched their ticket to the 2020 Class 3 Final Four with a 51-46 sectional win over Steelville and a 52-46, intense quarterfinal win over Saxony Lutheran.
                        Photo by Shari Harris
Holland hits for two in the third against 
Saxony Lutheran to bring the score to 37-34.

Sectionals
The Licking Lady Wildcats faced a familiar opponent in the 23-5 Lady Cardinals from Steelville. Licking beat Steelville by 16 in December but this game was much different. Licking jumped out to an early 10-2 lead but Steelville answered with a 6-0 run to finish the quarter, as LHS led 10-8. The second quarter saw Steelville sophomore Naomi Perkins get going from deep, hitting 3 three-pointers to keep her team close. Karlee Holland scored eight points of her own to keep the lead and Licking would go into halftime up 22-20. Kylie Taylor stepped her game up in the third, hitting back-to-back threes to help the Lady ‘Cats get a little separation but missed free throws and turnovers allowed Steelville back in it. Licking led 35-30 after the third quarter.  The Abby’s came up big in the fourth quarter as Moncrief scored two baskets in the paint and Sullins made two layups in transition. Holland iced the game at the FT line going 5 for 6 late and Licking won their third sectional in a row.
Holland led all scorers with 24 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals. Moncrief scored 10, Abbie Sullins 11, Taylor 6 points, Anna Sullins added 6 rebounds.
                                                                                                          Photo by Shari Harris
The Pep Club supported the Lady ‘Cats with all their might in sectionals.
Quarterfinals
Licking faced the Class 3 District 2 champs in the Saxony Lutheran Crusaders for the second straight season. Licking came out firing but outside shots just wouldn’t fall in the first quarter. Saxony’s stud, Emma Brune, got started early, scoring six in the first quarter off mid-range jumpers. Moncrief scored on two nice moves in the paint but LHS trailed 10-9 at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter saw Holland go down with a knee injury early on. After a timeout the Lady Wildcats came out focused. Taylor showed why she earned First Team All District and First Team All Frisco by dropping two deep threes and making two free throws to get her team back in the game and only down by three at halftime, 20-17. Maci Sparks started the third quarter in place of Holland and she showed nerves of steel, scoring on a beautiful spinning layup in the paint. Fellow freshman Kaida Cook also got in the mix, scoring two buckets on drive-and-dishes. Holland re-entered mid-third and got to work immediately, scoring eight points in a flash.
Photo by Shari Harris
Taylor hit some important threes in both wins. 
This shot was in the third quarter against Steelville to go up 28-22.
Taylor and Kiley Ingram also each drained a three to get the score tied headed into the final frame. Saxony actually got up by five early in the fourth quarter but the grit and determination of the Lady ‘Cats would not be denied. Holland hit a three from deep to get things rolling back to the orange and black. With the score tied, Taylor got a steal at mid-court and finished at the rim while getting hammered to give Licking the lead. Saxony tied the score up on the next possession. Licking called time out to set up an inbound’s play under their own basket. Taylor found Moncrief on a lob at the rim and Abby finished to get the lead back. Saxony then missed two free throws with under two minutes to play. Freshman Sparks got a rebound and was fouled. She calmly walked to the line and sank both free throws. Taylor made one of two free throws after a Saxony turnover to extend the lead to five. Saxony scored a two but Holland got the inbound’s pass and was fouled sending her to the line, up three. She ended up sinking three of four and Sparks nailed two more free throws to ice the game and send Licking to their second final four in program history.
Holland led all scorers with 19 points. Taylor added 14. Sparks 6, Moncrief 6, Cook 4 and Ingram 3.
“This one was harder than last year. The pressure for us to get back really weighed on the girls and myself these last two games. I am so proud of how the girls responded to adversity today. I am excited to get a shot to play for a state title.” Coach Rissler
                                                                       Photo by Shari Harris
Cheerleaders prepared for the sectional game in Rolla.

                                                                                                                                                    Photo submitted
The Lady ‘Cats basketball team, cheerleaders, Pep Club members and coaches gathered to celebrate the Quarter-Final win Saturday.

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