OZARK -- Make it 23 in a row and an undefeated regular season for the Ozark Lady Hillbillies.
The Ozark senior starters got the offense going early and didn't look back after that Friday night in a 54-19 victory against Charleston at the Hillbillies Activities Center.
Charleston (17-7, 10-2): Newhart 11, King 4, McKenzie 2, Grandison 1, Byrd 1.
Ozark (23-0, 12-0): Walker 16, Ladd 13, Lane 11, Barnett 6, Schaffer 4, Nagel 2, Joy 2.
"The next game will be the most important," Ozark coach Bret Nagel said. "That's the only cliche I know. We feel good where we are at. But we are going to just play one game at time now heading into postseason play."
Senior starters Lauren Lane, Ariel Walker and Hannah Ladd got the offense going early without classmate Meagan Harris, who missed the game because of illness.
The seniors scored the initial 16 points of the game for the Lady Hillbillies on senior night.
"They played well for us at the start," Nagel said. "That's what you want from your seniors. You never know with emotions on senior night. But I thought they played very well like usual."
Lane got the offense going with back-to-back 3-point baskets to open the game. Walker and Ladd were able to attack the basket after that to help extend the lead.
Walker finished the scoring run from the seniors with the first basket of the second quarter, which gave Ozark a 16-2 lead.
"We are all or none early," Nagel said. "We shot the ball well early. We've had games were we miss our first five shots or so. We didn't do that tonight. We set the tone early putting pressure on them."
Walker finished with a game-high 16 points for Ozark (23-0, 12-0). Ladd added 13 points, while Lane chipped in 11 for the Lady Hillbillies, the last unbeaten girls team in the state.
Charleston (17-7, 10-2) was led by Hattie Newhart's 11 points.
Ozark was able to take a 25-13 lead heading into halftime behind that strong effort from its seniors early.
The Lady Hillbillies were also able to force 10 first-half turnovers, which lead to some fast-break baskets on offense.
"I thought we played really well defensively," Nagel said. "They missed some shots they usually make. But we did a good job challenging shots. We forced them to try to make a good shot."
Charleston was limited to just one of 13 shooting from the field while turning the ball over four times in the first quarter. The Lady Tigers were able to turn it around in the second quarter, making five of nine shots.
"We missed a bunch of easy ones," Charleston coach Jason Rucker said. "The bottom line was they made theirs and we didn't. It snowballed on us after that. We are shooting at the rim all night. We just didn't make many of them."
Boys: Ozark 53, Charleston 52
Charleston got a basket on its final possession of the game, but it wasn't the one needed to send the game to overtime.
Charleston (16-6, 12-2): Needham 16, Masingale 15, Dorrough 13, Millsap 5, Haberer 4.
Ozark (21-4, 9-4): Fisher 14, Ross 12, Ewing 11, Green 10, Caudle 3, Rowland 2.
The Tigers had the ball down by three points with 8.6 seconds left. Charleston missed a 3-point attempt but got an offensive rebound and a putback, allowing Ozark to hold on for the victory.
"This is a rivalry game every time we play," Ozark coach Brad Johnson said. "I'm proud of the guys. They are coming together at the right time. It was shaky there for a bit playing not to lose. But we showed a lot of heart."
Ozark (21-4, 9-4 was led by senior Grant Needham's game-high 16 points on senior night at the Hillbillies Activities Center.
"I'm proud of him," Johnson said. "He has been kind of hit or miss here lately. But in the last couple games, he has stepped up for us scoring and being a rim protector."
The offense was balanced with Ethan Masingale adding 15 points, while Ethan Dorrough chipped in 13 for the Hillbillies.
"That's what makes us special is evening out the scoring and sharing the ball," Johnson said. "They don't care who gets the credit they want to win basketball games. When you get a group like that, special things can happen."
Charleston's Kaleb Fisher scored a team-high 14 points. Brayden Ross had 12, Chase Ewing finished with 11 and Jacob Green added 10 for the Tigers (16-6, 12-2).
Ozark held a 44-39 advantage heading into the final quarter, but Charleston was able to cut into the lead quickly.
The Tigers used a 9-4 run to open the fourth quarter to tie the game at 48 with a free throw from Ewing with 2:44 left in the game. But the Hillbillies were able to hold on down the stretch making three of four free throws along with another field goal.
Preps Basketball on 02/10/2018
Print Headline: Basketball: Ozark Lady Hillbillies remain unbeaten