By BRIAN JOHNSON
Riding a solid second-half defensive effort and the scoring of 6-foot, 2-inch freshman post Emrie Ellis, the Vanoss Lady Wolves coasted to a 44-27 victory over the Stonewall Lady Longhorns Friday night at East Central University’s Kerr Activities Center.
Vanoss is playing its home games at ECU this season while its fieldhouse is undergoing renovations.
The Wolves, 3-0 on the season, limited Stonewall to six second-half points (two in the third quarter and four in the fourth) while Ellis tossed in a game-high 21 points, pulled down nine rebounds and blocked a whopping eight shots.
“Emrie took over in the second half,” said Vanoss Head Coach Jon Hurt. “She has great instincts and a feel for the game.”
Thirteen of Ellis’ points came after halftime as she finished the game 9-of-15 from the floor and 3-of-4 from the free-throw line. Seven of her nine boards came over the final two quarters.
The Lady Wolves totaled nine steals as Stonewall committed 20 turnovers in the contest.
“When we figure out how to play defense without fouling, I think we can be pretty good,” Hurt said. “We’ve just got to find some consistency.”
Vanoss actually trailed by a 21-13 margin late in the second quarter, but closed the final 3:17 with a 6-0 run. Two Abbi Snow assists led to a basket each from Bailey Bolin and Ellis during that stretch while Laramie Doffin converted a shot to trim the deficit to 21-19 at intermission.
The Lady Wolves even fell behind 23-19 to start the third quarter off a basket by Katie Logan. But Vanoss scored 14 unanswered points to snatch a 33-23 advantage heading into the fourth.
Ellis had nine points in the third period alone, scoring off a Rileigh Rush assist with 6:34 left, executing an old-fashioned 3-point play with 3:46 remaining, scoring off a Lizzy Simpson feed with 3:00 to go and nailing a shot off the glass after a spin inside with one second left.
The lead even swelled to 15 early in the fourth as Vanoss tallied the first five points with Simpson scoring three off a free throw and a field goal and Rush hitting a bucket as the Vanoss lead was inflated to 15 at 38-23.
Simpson finished the game with six points, four rebounds, one block and an assist for the Lady Wolves and Rush ended with five points, four boards and a game-leading four assists. Caitlin Byrd recorded four steals, three rebounds and a pair of assists to go with her four points for the winners.
Dawsyn Lyon topped the Lady Longhorns with nine points as she was 3-of-3 from the field, including 2-of-2 from 3-point land, and 1-of-2 free throws. Colby Sawyer and Clio Heath, off the bench, followed with five points each.
Alexis Chamberlain pulled down a team-high six rebounds to go with her four points and Logan chipped in four as well.
Vanoss shot 42 percent from the floor while Stonewall was just at a 33 percent clip. The Wolves had seven less turnovers with 13. Both teams failed to put on a free-throw shooting clinic as the Lady Wolves were only 7-of-14 while the Lady Longhorns were only 4-of-9.
It was Stonewall’s first Pontotoc Conference loss in three seasons. The Lady Longhorns had won 21 straight conference games.
“We knew it would come to an end at some point, it is what it is,” said Stonewall head coach Brian Davis. “Truthfully I’m not worried least bit about it. We have lot bigger things to focus on. Right now we’re not very good in lots of areas, but we knew it would be an adjustment and a process. We’ll get better.”
Vanoss hosts Tupelo tonight in the Kerr Activities Center, while Stonewall is at home with Stuart tonight.