NORTH CALLAWAY ROUNDUP: Ladybirds, Klein earn first wins vs Silex; Thunderbirds notch first win vs Owls; girls wrestlers debut with wins

By Jeremy Jacob, Sports Editor
Posted 12/2/23

Shryock, Blevins late heroics lift Ladybirds to 49-46 win vs Silex

The North Callaway girls were in a bind late in Thursday night’s game at home.

North Callaway vs Silex Photo Gallery

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NORTH CALLAWAY ROUNDUP: Ladybirds, Klein earn first wins vs Silex; Thunderbirds notch first win vs Owls; girls wrestlers debut with wins


Shryock, Blevins late heroics lift Ladybirds to 49-46 win vs Silex

The North Callaway girls were in a bind late in Thursday night’s game at home.

North Callaway vs Silex Photo Gallery

The Ladybirds were down 46-42 to Eastern Missouri Conference foe Silex and had only one field goal in the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter but still eventually defeated the Lady Owls 49-46. Reigning all-conference and all-district players Natalie Shryock and Riley Blevins combined for all seven of North Callaway’s points in the final minute in the form of a Shryock 3-pointer and two free throws from each girl.

First-year head coach Andrew Klein said his first career victory as a basketball head coach doesn’t happen without the clutch play at the end from his players and the supportive nature by assistant coach Logan Blevins. The Ladybirds (1-1, 1-0 EMO) were in high-pressure situations late, but he said his best players — who had become familiar with him from his three seasons as the volleyball head coach — rose to the challenge.

"They executed the plays," Klein said. "I wasn't out there playing as I gave that up a while ago. Making that shot (Shryock's 3-pointer) is just big-time. The best players on our team (Shryock and Blevins) nailing 4-for-4 (free throws) down the stretch. That's hard for any kid. I don't care if you're all-state or all-conference. When the pressure's on and you know your team needs you to bury shots, that's awesome."

Shryock finished with a game-high 21 points, five 3-pointers and four assists, Blevins had eight points, six rebounds and three assists, Lakyn Hartley had nine points and three steals, and Kymorie Myers led the team with eight rebounds. Silex (1-2, 0-1 EMO) was led by Maddie Isom's 11 points and Abigail Mooney's 10 points.

Shryock had the hot hand in the second quarter when she hit three of her 3-pointers and accounted for 13 points in the quarter. North Callaway took a 30-21 lead at halftime following a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Shryock after trailing 10-9 after one. Still, Shryock’s 3-pointer to make 46-45 Silex with just less than a minute to go was sweeter to her after the Ladybirds made only one field goal in the previous minutes of the fourth quarter.

“It felt good,” Shryock said. “It’s good when my teammates pass me the ball. It's always hard to get the first one, but we all played super well together.”

Klein agreed that 3-pointer doesn’t happen without the setup as Myers had been called for a moving screen already in the game but executed a good one to spring Shryock loose.

“I did call a play, and they ran it perfectly,” Klein said. “Kymorie Myers set a great screen, and she set her feet and it was perfect. At the end of the day, Nat has to make that shot, and the guards have to swing the ball for her to have the opportunity to make that shot.”

Of course, North Callaway was still trailing by one point but then Blevins forced her way to the free-throw line, sustaining hard contact and heavy pressure before hitting the game-winning free throws.

Klein said it is also important to remember that Shryock and Blevins played the entire game. They were playing so well that he felt like he had to trust his players.

“Credit to Riley Blevins for going in there and getting fouled hard,” Klein said. “She looked at me and said, ‘I thought they called a charge on me.’

“Those were our two most consistent hot hands. Any given game, depending on who’s hot, every player has to be ready to play all 32 (minutes). If they’re playing out of their mind, I want to keep them out there and don’t want to put a leash on any of these girls because they’re good players.”

Shryock didn’t have any doubt the Ladybirds would have the lead after Blevins’ trip to the line.

“She had a heck of a play at the end,” Shryock said. “It was 100 percent (confidence from us). We were all back in man because we knew it was going in.”

Klein said he liked how North Callaway were taking more shots from the perimeter compared to its season-opening loss to Centralia and that helped deal with Silex’s press defense. The Ladybirds converted on 7-of-17 3-point field goals after registering a 2-for-6 clip in their first game.

Most of the attention will be on Shryock and Blevins. Klein said, but Hartley and Abrielle Burgher should be given credit in North Callaway’s defense, which limited Silex to one point in the final four minutes after a steal-and-score by Isom made it 45-42 Silex. Hartley had the steal that was sandwiched in between the two vital trips to the line.

“Lakyn Hartley and Abrielle Burgher definitely didn’t have their best offensive games, but what they do is they hustle down the floor and they play great defense,” Klein said. “Abrielle, late in the fourth quarter, when we needed pressure defense, she was up guarding when a lot of girls were tired. Lakyn Hartley had a steal there with about 30 seconds left, and those are game-winning plays.”

"Our defense is really good because we're all really close, we talk through everything and we're good at communication,” Shryock said. 

North Callaway faces Boonville (1-0) in the first round of the Centralia Invitational Tournament at 6 p.m. Monday.

Thunderbirds bury Silex 78-47 with barrage of 3-pointers

The North Callaway boys were feeling it from downtown.

The Thunderbirds won their first game of the season 78-47 on Friday night at home after dropping 11 3-pointers on Eastern Missouri Conference foe Silex. Four players each had at least three 3-pointers, including Sam Pezold and hit five 3-pointers.

Pezold had a game-high 27 points, six steals and four assists, and Isiah Craighead followed with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Among the other hot shooters from deep were Levi Drake with 12 points and four assists, Austin Brown with 12 points and Paul Russell with nine points.

"Everybody was unselfish -- starters and subs," head coach Matt Miller said. "Sometimes, there were three passes before finding someone for an open layup or open shot."

Tyler Twellman was most of the Silex (0-2, 0-1 EMO) offense as he scored 26 points and had four 3-pointers, but North Callaway had the Owls under control early with a 21-6 lead. The Thunderbirds were able to give the reserves more minutes in the first quarter thanks to the sizeable lead that grew to 42-19 at halftime.

North Callaway (1-1, 1-0 EMO) plays Hallsville (3-0) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the first round of the Centralia Invitational Tournament.

North Callaway girls open wrestling season, careers in Hallsville

For their first-ever matches, the North Callaway girls did well.

Head coach Ronnie Kimbley has those thoughts after the four Ladybirds wrestlers competed on Monday at the Hallsville Indians Girls’ Classic. Abigail Schmidt, Emma Higgins and Addison Fansler debuted for North Callaway while Brooke Giboney returned from last season.

“All four of them came out aggressive, and you could see the drive and desire for success,” Kimbley said. “They improved each match and settled in to capture their first victories.”

Schmidt was victories three times in the 170-pound weight class as her three pinfalls earned her second place. Her only loss was by pinfall in the third period against Kirksville’s Madisynn Crawford.

Higgins pinned South Callaway’s Shelby Doster after being pinned twice in the 130 weight class, and Fansler picked up a third-period pinfall in the 125 seventh-place match against Mexico’s Kiya Smith following three pinfall losses. 

Giboney avoided being pinned at 105 against a couple returning state qualifiers but finished third after a 5-0 decision loss to Francis Howell’s Mialee Copeland and 14-9 loss to Hallsville’s Candace Calvert.

Lady Panthers have three see double figures in 62-36 win at North Callaway

The North Callaway girls saw the difference one game makes on Tuesday night.

The Ladybirds opened the season at home against district foe Centralia but lost 62-36, falling behind 37-19 at halftime. The Lady Panthers won their first game after losing their season opener 62-54 at California.

Braylin Brunkhorst led Centralia (1-1) with 19 points, six rebounds and three steals, Raegan Anderson followed with 16 points and four 3-pointers, Ryenn Gordon had 10 points, six assists and four steals, and Shelby Lewis finished with four points, 14 rebounds and four blocks.

North Callaway head coach Andrew Klein, who made his coaching debut with the Ladybirds, said his team made plenty of “first-game mistakes” that can be fixed with practice. Riley Blevins accounted for most of North Callaway’s points early as she finished with 11 points and had four assists, Natalie Shryock followed with nine points and Lakyn Hartley had seven rebounds.

Panthers pour in points in 66-44 win at North Callaway

The Centralia boys had their offense going well on Tuesday night.

The Panthers won 66-44 at North Callaway to set a season-high in their three games played and had three score in double figures. The Thunderbirds had a slow start in their first game of the season, trailing 30-13 at halftime before scoring 31 points in the second half.

Travis Brooks led Centralia (2-1) and all scorers with 15 points, Anthony Ford followed with 12 points and Logan Rosenfelder had 11 points. 

North Callaway head coach Matt Miller said his team had “trouble getting going in the first half of their first game” but had his returning all-conference and senior players lead the way. Sam Pezold had 15 points and four assists, and Isiah Craighead followed with nine points and nine rebounds.