COLUMBIA — Paige Nelson watched the play around her, scanning the court without missing a single movement made by her teammates or her opponents. She shuffled under the basket, yelling “Switch! Switch! Switch!” to guide her teammates into position on defense.
As Moberly’s Tierney Seifert dribbled down court, Nelson, a junior guard for the Hickman girls basketball team, matched her step for step without allowing Seifert an escape route.
“She’s a competitor, period,” said Hickman coach Tonya Mirts. “That’s why she plays so much for us because she brings that tough-nosed grit.”
During a timeout in the second quarter with Moberly ahead 14-7, Nelson remained unfazed, focusing her gaze and absorbing her coach's directions.
After several players on both sides fell to the floor fighting for the ball, Nelson gained control, quickly passing to teammate Jade Holly, who slipped the ball in the basket with ease.
Despite the determination of Nelson and her teammates, Moberly’s fast-paced play was too much for the Kewpies, who lost to the Spartans 43-26 on Saturday afternoon in the Norm Stewart Classic at Columbia College.
Nelson had two assists and five rebounds for the Kewpies. Holly led the team with 11 points, followed by Aqua Corpening, who chalked up seven points.
“The message in the locker room was, ‘Don’t let this define us. Let’s figure out what we have to do to get better,’” Mirts said.
For Hickman (2-1), Moberly’s speed was something new. The Kewpies are used to defending teams with a lot of height as opposed to quickness.
“It was a fast-paced game, but we have to stay together as a team,” Nelson said. “It’s the beginning of the season, the first loss. We just need to learn from it and go from there.”