Ozark girls basketball

OZARK'S MORIAH PUTT scores two of her 22 points against Branson on Monday.

BRANSON — Looking up to many centers, Ozark’s Moriah Putt has learned she can have more success shooting under defenders than trying to shoot over them.

The scoop on Putt is her scoop shot is becoming more and more of a weapon. It was a highlight of her 22-point night in Ozark’s 68-14 beatdown of Branson on Monday.

With most of the Lady Tigers’ starters playing only the first and third quarters, Putt scored six points in the first quarter and 16 in the third.

She repeatedly gained separation from her defender by fully extending her right arm in front of her, with the ball secured in her right hand, and proceeding to flick her wrist to bank in her shot.  

“Being a smaller post, I had to learn new moves,” the 5-foot-10 Putt said. “Throughout club season in the summer, I learned that little scoop. Watching the NBA and WNBA, I saw them holding the ball on top of their hand. I thought, ‘Maybe I should do that.’ 

“I’ve been using it and really like it,” she added. “It’s been working good.”

Putt has noticed the scoop shot allows her to put up a stronger shot while being hacked on her arm.

“And-ones are easier to get now,” she said. “It’s made my layups better. Before, if I got fouled, it was hard to put my shot up.”

Leading up to her 22-point effort, Putt scored 15 points versus Columbia Rock Bridge and 14 against Barstow last week.

“She’s all about confidence,” coach David Brewer said. “When she gets the ball in the basket like she did tonight, her confidence goes high. She had a pretty impressive offensive performance in the third quarter.

“She’s made some positive strides in her defense and picked up her rebounding,” he added. “She’s made some good progress.”

Overall, Ozark (5-8 overall and 1-0 in the COC) showed off its improvement by wasting no time breaking away from Branson and displaying a killer instinct. 

The Lady Tigers were up 37-7 at halftime, that was just the beginning of their dominance. Ozark outscored Branson 27-1 over the third quarter and the start of the fourth quarter to lead 64-8.

Ozark handed Branson its largest defeat going back at least 13 seasons. The most comparable Lady Pirates loss during that span was a 67-19 setback against Nixa in the 2008-09 season.

It was Ozark’s biggest margin of victory since an 83-26 whipping of Fort Smith Southside (Arkansas) last season.  

After an 0-5 start to this season, the Lady Tigers are seeing success. Their 10-point victory against Columbia Rock Bridge last week is the best example, yet, of how far they have come.

“It was our best defensive performance,” Brewer said. “That night was the apex of our season so far, a solid offensive performance, controlling the boards against bigger people and controlling (Mizzou signee Averi Kroenke). 

“Anna (Hitt) has been defending well,” he added. “Her length really bothered Kroenke. Kroenke is a 6-1 guard, but Anna was able to challenger her shot. Anna could stay in front of her and has the length and speed that she was able to give her trouble.”

It was a rewarding win on many fronts for the Lady Tigers.

“We actually got something out of all the hard work we’ve been putting in,” Putt said. “We finally got a big win against a good team. That’s going to be in the back of our minds now, instead of our losses.”

Putt said she and her teammates reminded themselves during their 0-5 start that they were playing elite foes. In fact, those five teams are now a combined 50-6.

“It was tough, but that has made us a better team,” Putt said. “We had to remember that those were good teams, that it wasn’t necessarily about us having a bad performance. We had to keep pushing forward.”

Branson (1-10 and 0-1) didn’t offer much of a challenge, but Brewer was still encouraged to see Ozark put up 62 points in the first 24 minutes.

“Offensively, we have worked on shot selection,” Brewer said. “We have some talented players, but sometimes they choose to shoot early in a possession as opposed to finding something easy. I think that’s been the biggest improvement, understanding our shot selection and what we’re trying to get out of the offense. Where we need to go is to continue to improve our execution offensively and improving on the boards.”

Ozark 68, Branon 14

OZARK (68) — Boggs 3 2-2 8, Hitt 5 1-2 11, Kent 1 0-0 2, Watson 2 2-4 8, Wakeman 1 0-0 3, Rivera 5 0-1 10, Putt 10 2-3 22, Soloman 1 2-2 4. Totals 28 9-14 68.

BRANSON (14) — Grimm 0 0-2 0, Hagston 1 3-3 5, Heil 0 1-2 1, Hoenie 1 0-0 2, Riveros 2 0-1 4, Rogers 1 0-0 2. Totals 5 4-8 14.

Ozark     14 23 25 6 - 68

Branson   4  3   1  6 - 14

3-point goals - Watson 2, Wakeman.

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