It was back and forth. Until the fourth.
The Ozark Lady Tigers used a 13-0 run in the fourth quarter Monday night to defeat the Jefferson City Lady Jays 46-39 at Fleming Fieldhouse.
"That was the game right there," Jefferson City coach Dan Ridgeway said.
It looked like an upset was in the making early in the fourth quarter. A three-point play by Megan Foster gave the Lady Jays a 37-33 lead with 6:12 to go against the Lady Tigers, ranked 10th in Class 5 by the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association.
But the Lady Tigers scored on their next six possessions, while the Lady Jays came up empty on their ensuing six.
"They made some good adjustments on defense, we had a couple of turnovers, missed a couple of shots that maybe we should have waited to get a better one," Ridgeway said.
The Lady Jays were 0-of-3 from the field with three turnovers in its six trips with the basketball over a span of 6:05.
"It's a learning experience for what is still a young team," Ridgeway said. "We know that we took the 10th-ranked team to the wire and that says something."
It was a very solid effort through the first 25 minutes for the Lady Jays.
"This was probably as good as we've played in a couple of weeks," Ridgeway said. "I couldn't be more proud of this team, they did everything we asked. We played great as a team."
Ozark's biggest lead in the first three quarters came early at 6-2. The Lady Tigers took a 10-9 advantage into the second quarter.
The teams traded buckets in the second quarter and the game was tied at 18 at the half.
The Lady Jays pieced together a 7-2 run midway through the third quarter to take their biggest lead of the game at 30-25 with 1:40 remaining in the period. But the Lady Tigers answered, closing the quarter with an 8-2 spurt to take a 33-32 advantage into the final period.
Both teams were strong from the free-throw line in the contest. Ozark finished 13-of-15 from the stripe, while the Lady Jays hit all five of their attempts.
Hannah Cook, a 6-foot senior who is going to Alabama, led Ozark (11-5) with 16 points and four rebounds. She had 12 points in the second half, six in each quarter.
Foster finished with 16 points to lead Jefferson City. Kezia Martin and Nicole Martin added eight each for the Lady Jays, while Sidney McMillan had a game-high five rebounds.
"There's no quit in this team, we're still playing," Ridgeway said. "And we're going to need that next week."
The Lady Jays (8-12) are off until Feb. 11 when they host the third-ranked team in Class 5, the Hickman Kewpies, in the opener of a boys-girls varsity doubleheader. Game time is 7 p.m. Two days later, the No. 1 Rock Bridge Bruins come to Fleming Fieldhouse.
"It's going to be a challenge," Ridgeway said.
In Monday's junior varsity game, Ozark pulled away in the fourth quarter to take a 48-32 victory against Jefferson City.