Another layup by Kayla Smith pushed the lead back to 3 in the fourth, but Stuart couldn’t convert a steal on Kiowa’s next possession, and the ball went over to Kiowa.
Clift took the inbounds pass, broke a double team, brought the ball across the halfcourt line, then hit a pull-up 3-pointer to tie the game 35-35.
The Lady Hornets lost their next possession to a traveling violation, and on the opposite end Rylee Smith laid one in for a 37-35 lead. Stuart’s Megan Jernigen eventually tied the game 39-39 with a coast-to-coast layup, but overall Stuart struggled with Kiowa’s second-half defense, which switched from a fullcourt press used unsuccessfully in the first half to a halfcourt trap.
“Third quarter, we went dry, did not hit (shots),” Stuart coach Melinda Dobson said. “We only hit four free throws and one 2-point shot.”
Dobson added, “I was proud of them. They haven’t stepped up and played like that in a long time. The Stuart girls, they’re making an impression on people.”
Following Jernigen’s layup, Stuart lost its next possession on a five-second violation, then Clift rolled off a screen and knocked down a jump shot. Rylee Smith blocked Stuart’s next shot, then Clift buried a deep 3-pointer for a 44-39 lead.
Kayla Smith turned the ball over, then Clift slashed through the lane, collapsing Stuart’s defense before finding Gillispie for a layup and a 46-39 lead. Kylie Jernigen’s layup pulled the Lady Hornets within 5, but Clift and Stiles shot 6-for-6 at the free-throw line in the final two minutes of the game to secure the win.
“We calmed down,” Kiowa coach Wade Daniel said of his team’s second half. “When Addy (Clift) picked up her second foul, they kind of panicked a little bit.”