The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

December 12, 2012

Southwest girls off to 5-0 start

By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer

— The Southwest High School girls basketball team, as expected, has opened the season in stellar fashion.

Class 3 Southwest, which is in its first season under Brad Phillips, hiked its record to 5-0 on Monday night by winning 50-26 at McDonald County.

The Trojans are 1-0 in the Ozark 7 Conference with a 63-18 win against visiting McAuley Catholic last Friday. Southwest opened its schedule as the No. 1 seed in the Blue Eye Tournament and responded by beating Hollister (56-24), Cassville (50-33) and third-seeded Blue Eye (52-21).

“I’m very pleased with the way things have gone,” Phillips said Tuesday. “The kids have worked hard. I’m very happy with their effort and intensity level. Also, they’ve bought into the defensive aspect of our game.”

That defense, Phillips said, has been mainly a man-to-man with some pressing.

Jaime Shrum, a freshman, is a new cog for Southwest.

Three seniors — Taylor Mettlach, Michaela Mitchell and Cady Swindle — helped the 2011-12 finish 17-9 overall and 8-2 (second behind 10-0 Purdy) in the Ozark 7 under Steven Rissler. Southwest lost 68-58 to third-seeded Clever in the District 3-12 Tournament at Mount Vernon.

The 6-foot Mettlach earned first all-league honors. Michaela Mitchell made the second elite and Hendrix and Shannon Mitchell garnered honorable mention.

Shrum has been starting with junior Montana Hendrix, sophomore Shannon Mitchell (Michaela’s sister) and sophomore Nicole Ickes.

Mettlach (who’s been rounding into form from a knee injury), Swindle and sophomore Jessica Morgan are current leaders off the bench, Phillips said.

Cia Roller, a 5-9 sophomore, and freshman Shasta Sanders give Southwest a 10-player roster, Phillips said.

Blue Eye, in its tourney, knocked off No. 2 Reeds Spring to challenge Southwest. The older Mitchell and Hendrix tallied 16 and 10 points, respectively, against Blue Eye.

Shannon Mitchell scored 13, Mettlach 12 and Michaela Mitchell 10 in the semifinals against Cassville. Michaela Mitchell had 16 points and Hendrix 10 against Hollister. Mettlach, Ickes and Shrum each added nine in the first-round contest.

“Consistently shooting the ball from the field is a concern,” Phillips said. “We also have missed a bunch of free throws. Hopefully, a lack of depth won’t be a concern. I believe all will be OK if we continue to progress and play the way we’ve been playing.”

Phillips, who’s been coaching for more than a decade, is a 1993 graduate of Maynard (Ark.) High School. He has degrees from Williams Baptist (Walnut Ridge, Ark.) and Emporia (Kan.) State.

Southwest seeks its sixth win at 1 p.m. on Saturday at a neutral site. Summit Christian of Lee’s Summit (Mo.) will be the opponent.

“We’re entering a tough stretch,” Phillips said. “We travel to Ash Grove on Monday night before playing host to Pea Ridge (Ark.) on Thursday.”

Phillips’ assistant is Missouri State graduate Darrel Tilford. He’s coached girls and boys since the early 1970s.

Phillips said, however, that Tilford wasn’t the boys basketball coach when Southwest was launched in 1953-54 by the consolidation of Seligman and Washburn.