BURLINGTON JUNCTION, Mo. —Nodaway-Holt’s team has changed throughout this season — both in terms of personnel with the addition of starter Emma Bohannon and with how first-year coach Dustin Jenkins has utilized that personnel.
The most noticeable change in Wednesday’s 43-27 loss to Worth County in the opening game of the Northwest Missouri Tournament was using senior Shaina Culp more in the post offensively.
“Now whenever they give me the ball (on the inside), I can either take it or shoot over them because I am the same height or taller and they can’t block it,” Culp said. “That is my strategy — shooting over them.”
Early this season with Bohannon working her way back into the lineup, Culp was mostly used as a guard on the offensive end where her athleticism could help a backcourt replacing its point guard from last season. On Wednesday, Culp was able to move back into the post where she was a dominant force her first three years in the program.
“It is definitely fun, because a lot of the teams know that I haven’t been playing inside, and whenever I do go inside, it catches them off guard," Culp said.
Culp led the team in scoring with 13 points in the loss. She helped keep the Trojans close in the early going with back-to-back baskets pulling the team to within 7-6 late in the first quarter.
“She did well,” Jenkins said of Culp. “She took it to the basket and that is what we been talking about for quite a while now when she is down there — be aggressive and take it to the basket. She has a good shot down there if she will just trust it.”
The Trojans kept it a one-possession game through much of the second quarter with a Culp put-back making it 14-12 and a free throw making it 16-13. Worth County pulled away to a 20-13 halftime lead with a 4-0 run in the final seconds of the half including a Braidy Hunt steal and layup.
“I don’t know that we even attempted to do offense for some reason today,” Jenkins said. “We just struggled all around — not meeting the ball, passing too late.”
Another Culp putback pulled Nodaway-Holt within 22-17 early in the third quarter, but the Tigers answered with a 6-0 run to go ahead by double figures at 28-17. Nodaway-Holt fought back with a 10-4 run to get within 32-27 early in the fourth quarter, but did not score for the remainder of the game as Worth County closed on a 11-0 spurt.
Aside from Culp, Kloe Jenkins had eight points, Kayelyn Edmondson had four and Rileigh Brown had two.
Worth County was led by EmiLee Brown with 13 points while Jill Hardy had 10, and Megan Cassavaugh and Hunt each had eight.
Nodaway-Holt will now face Northland Christian on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. A win would likely send the Trojans to the third-place game.
“It is very, very important,” Culp said on bouncing back to get third. “We were planning on coming into this tournament looking at first place, but we lost that chance … We are shooting for third. That is the goal.”