KEOTA — Sometimes being in foul trouble can be a good thing.
It certainly worked out that way for Keota’s Paige Thompson Wednesday in a 50-33 Class 1A Region 4 girls basketball win over Moulton-Udell.
Thompson spent the last half of the second quarter on the bench with foul trouble so she was well rested when the third quarter started. She used that to her advantage and scored the first 13 Keota points of the second half as the Eagles nearly matched their first-half scoring total in just the third stanza.
Keota led 10-8 after one quarter and 17-14 at halftime. By the time the third quarter ended, Thompson had 18 points and Moulton-Udell had just 20 as the fourth period started with the home team up 33-20.
“My teammates helped me out,” Thompson said. “They played great defense to get us the ball. They played great offense to help get me open. Because I got in foul trouble at the beginning, I just got that spark when I got to go back out there after halftime. I knew our season could come to an end. I’m a senior this year. I just wanted to get out there and play.”
Addison Sprouse, Keota’s career scoring leader after notching 15 points in Friday’s opening-round win over English Valleys, drained two 3-pointers to give the Eagles a 6-2 lead they would never relinquish. Sprouse finished with 16 points to make her career total 826. Maddison Sheetz held the old Eagles record of 803.
The visitors would play a defensive alignment of a box-and-one on Sprouse.
“When you’re trying to stop one person eventually somebody else is going to be open,” Keota coach Jeff Sprouse said. “We made a couple of little adjustments. Of course Paige still had to make the shots and she certainly did that. She did a great job in the third quarter.”
The first shot of the second half was a made 3-pointer by Thompson. She drove the lane for a 2-pointer before MU made a shot. Thompson buried another trey. MU made a two, then Thompson found another hole in the defense and drove in for an and-one, which she converted. Another runner in the lane was followed by a Thompson steal.
The visiting Eagles eventually changed their defense to a triangle-and-two on the home standing Eagles.
“When she made those shots, that definitely loosened things up,” Coach Sprouse said. “She definitely has that ability. Some of those shots down the lane were kind of interesting. I don’t think she had a way out of it except to go ahead and make the shot. She definitely showed us some skill in making those.”
“When I thought I had an open shot, I just took the opportunity and when I thought I could take a girl off the dribble, I did it,” Thompson said. “Addison hit those three threes, then they knew they had to guard her better so that would just leave everyone else open and that made things easier for me. If they were going to put all that attention on our best scorer, then somebody else had to step up and score.”
Jill Schulte scored all eight of her points in the fourth quarter to stretch the lead. She was 4 of 6 on free throws. Addison Swanson added five points, going 3 of 4 at the foul line. Sky Weber had three points.
MU was 4 of 13 on free throws while Keota was 14 of 18.
Moulton-Udell ends its season with a 7-12 record.
Keota (10-12) advances to Friday’s game at No. 3 Montezuma (19-2), a fellow South Iowa Cedar League member.
“We have the privilege of coming to practice (Thursday),” Coach Sprouse said. “Half of the state doesn’t get that opportunity. We have to make most of that opportunity. We get to go play in an environment that we did not play well in the first time up there.”
Keota lost 53-13 at Montezuma Dec. 18.
“We are not going to do that again,” the coach said. “There is absolutely no reason not to be ready to go play.”
“I know Montezuma is very good and it will be a tough game,” Thompson said. “I think if we hustle and play as a team like we have been, I think we have a shot.”