In the middle of a seven game winning streak, including a sweep through a pre-Christmas tournament three days earlier at Henry County, the Lady Spartans came out flat in Thursday’s opening game of the Campbell Holiday Classic.
Down 8-2 to Tri-Cities, McClure felt a change was needed.
“I don’t think (the starting five) knew when the game started,” he said. “We’re better than that.”
McClure substituted his entire starting lineup, and the newcomers contributed to a 12-2 run to close out the first quarter which ultimately led to a 69-31 victory.
Campbell (9-2) advanced to face Kell in a semifinal game tonight at 7 p.m.
Campbell’s starters never got into a rhythm in the first quarter, turning the ball over on five consecutive possessions. Once McClure inserted a new group with 4:20 left in the frame, momentum immediately shifted.
Sherdia Francis’ putback preceded back-to-back field goals from Colbi Nelson that allowed the Lady Spartans to tie the contest at 8-all. Tri-Cities briefly took a two-point lead, but three straight shots from Francis, Mikayla Lee and Nelson gave Campbell a 14-10 edge at the end of the period.
The Lady Spartans never trailed again.
“Every day, we talk about competing,” McClure said. “We played so bad in those first couple of minutes, I didn’t see any reason to keep the first team in. We just went to Henry County last weekend and won three games down there.
“It was a quick turnaround to our tournament, so I just didn’t understand. The next group just came in and they stepped up and did a pretty good job.”
McClure put the starters back in at the beginning of the second quarter, and they maintained the standard set by the reserves. Campbell went on to outscore Tri-Cities 25-6 in the second quarter and 21-7 in the third, en route to a 60-23 margin entering the fourth.
The Lady Spartans’ full-court pressure defense and rebounding proved to be too much for the Lady Bulldogs, who were held scoreless over the final 4 minutes of the second period.
“Our staple is our defense,” McClure said. “We were rusty at the start, but got it going.”
Julie McKie paced Campbell with 12 points, including eight in the third quarter. No other players scored in double figures, though reserve Sydney Norwood had three 3-pointers, including two back-to-back to close out the first half.
Miranda McClure had eight points, seven rebounds and two steals, while Nelson finished with six points and three steals. Jarriel Lark had nine rebounds, and Mikayla Wilson chipped in seven.
Campbell dressed 19 varsity and junior varsity players, and everyone saw time on the floor. The Lady Spartans had 21 assists, compared to four for Tri-Cities, and had 22 steals to the Lady Bulldogs’ eight.
“Our plan is to get these girls ready for the season and beyond,” McClure said. “We take advantage of these tournaments to make sure they stay competitive. To play the way we do defensively, it’s good to have fresh legs and prepare the girls for region. Everybody’s trying to develop into their roles.”
Teirra Worthan led Tri-Cities with 13 points, six rebounds and three steals, while Kayla Birdsong had 10 points and eight boards.
Tri-Cities will play Richmond Academy in a losers’ bracket game today at 1 p.m.