FAIRFAX, Mo. — The West Nodaway girls could not find their footing early against East Atchison and lost 83-21 in the first round of the Fairfax Tournament on Monday night.
The top-seeded Wolves attacked the eighth-seeded Rockets relentlessly early on with their press defense.
“Overall, it was a decent performance. I won’t say it was good, but I won’t say it was awful,” West Nodaway head coach Taylor Dameron said. “Like I told (the players), that is a top-three team in our conference. They are right up there with Jefferson and Mound City. It is a tough draw, but I thought we fought.”
West Nodaway has been working to develop freshman Erin Cook as a secondary ball-handler to help bring the ball up the floor, but they are still very reliant on senior Alissa Nelson to handle pressure. The 5-foot-1 guard struggled early against the length and speed of East Atchison.
“Those girls are athletic and probably one of the most athletic teams we will see all year,” Dameron said. “If we just would’ve eliminated some of the mental mistakes, I thought we could have competed tonight.”
The Wolves roared out to a 21-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. After the lead ballooned to 32-6 early in the second quarter, the Rockets — who have already matched their largest win total since the 2011-12 season — showed the fight that they have been known for this season.
West Nodaway junior Brittany McIntyre hit a free throw after a strong drive to the basket and then Nelson dialed up a long-range three.
Unfortunately for Rocket faithful, the change in momentum was brief as East Atchison closed the quarter on a 10-0 run.
Nelson fouled out of the game midway through the third quarter and the West Nodaway offense was unable to score in the fourth quarter as the Wolves padded the final margin with a 16-0 fourth period.
“The fourth quarter got kind of out-of-hand there,” Dameron said. “I thought the score wasn’t indicative of how competitive we were. … People will see the score and think, ‘Oh, wow.’ But at the same time, in the first half and then for most the third quarter, we were competitive.”
McIntyre was the only Rocket to reach double figures with 10 points. Sophomore Lexi Moore added six while Nelson had three and freshman Imajen Downing had two.
The Wolves were paced by sophomores Jaycee Graves and Kilea Cooper. Graves had a game-high 20 points and Cooper 17, including a trio of threes.
West Nodaway drops to 3-8 this season while East Atchison is now 12-1.
The Rockets will play in Thursday’s consolation semifinals at 4:30 p.m. against the loser of Tuesday’s South Holt and St. Joseph Christian game. The Rockets lost to South Holt by 11 earlier this year and to Christian by 24.