RHS, PHS girls recharge rivalry
The Lady Cougars and Lady Mohawks put on a show for their respective fans Thursday night in Rector, providing another memorable chapter in their Clay County roundball rivalry. RHS played host to Piggott for Senior Night, with the Lady Cougars emerging with a 65-45 victory on the evening.
The final score is deceptive, as the contest was truly up-in-the-air much of the night.
The two teams were tied at 28-28 at intermission, but a 17-5 Rector run in the third quarter gave the hosts the momentum to pull away. Bailey Haney and Kendal Gunn hit threes during the critical stretch, with Gunn netting eight points during the run. Rector led 46-35 heading into the fourth.
The lead continued to grow in the final stanza, as Rector continued to find the range from deep. Anna Blackshare and Jessica Scott made triples, complimenting drives by Heather Scott, Cheyenne Ellis and Ashley Arnold.
"When rivals play, you can throw the records right out the window," Rector coach Matt Dean said. "It was a much closer game than the scoreboard said. We were able to make shots in the second half which weren't falling in the first half. We made some adjustments defensively in the second half, and I felt like that was the difference in the game."
The Lady Mohawks were able to beat Rector's press early, finding lanes to the basket with crisp passing.
"I thought we played a good game," Piggott coach Alan Rabjohn said. "We were able to get past their press in the first half and convert some easy baskets. We had some opportunities to score more in the first half, but missed too many shots near the goal. It was one of those games where neither team was going to quit. I thought it was a good effort by everyone involved."
Piggott moved out to an early 5-3 advantage on a pair of drives by Mallory Wright and a free throw by Breanna Wright in the first three minutes of the contest.
Rector responded with a 15-2 run over the next four minutes to move ahead, 18-7. Gunn netted eight points during the salvo, finishing the opening frame with 11 points.
The Lady Mohawks scored six points in the final 39 seconds on a drive and follow-up free throw by freshman Miranda Ermert and a buzzer-beating off-the-glass three-pointer by Mallory Wright to stay close, trailing 18-13, heading into the second frame.
PHS opened the second quarter on a tear, outpacing Rector 8-1 in the first four minutes to move ahead, 22-19. Ermert started the Piggott run with a long jumper in the opening minute of the second period. Baseline baskets by freshman Bailey Pollard and Breanna Wright tied the game up, with a free throw by Mallory Wright and a bucket in the paint by ninth grader Shelby Chavez giving the Lady Mohawks a 22-19 lead.
Rector fought back midway through the second frame. RHS senior Jessica Scott sank a three and long two to start the host's response. Kelsey Wynn made one of two at the line to tie the game at 24-24 with 2:05 left in the first half. Back-to-back steals and layups by Heather Scott and Jessica Scott gave Rector a four point, but an offensive rebound and putback by PHS senior Hallie Vannada and two free throws from Mallory Wright with 12 seconds left in the first half tied the game back up at 24-24.
Rector was led by 18 points from Gunn and 16 by Jessica Scott. Also scoring for the Lady Cougars were Heather Scott 8, Blackshare 6, Haney 5, Rebekah Scott 4, Arnold 2, Kristen Smart 2, Ellis 2, Kaitlyn Essman 1 and Wynn 1.
Mallory Wright's 15 points paced the Lady Mohawks. Also scoring for Piggott were Breanna Wright 9, Jessica Scheffler 6, Ermert 5, Pollard 4, Vannada 2, Melinda Blackmon 2 and Shelby Chavez 2.
Earlier in the evening, Rector's senior basketball and band members were recognized for their efforts. Cougar Band members Ryan LaRue and Kailee Carter joined Lady Cougars Jessica Scott, Kelsey Wynn, Heather Scott, Allison Harmon and Amanda Bradford and Cougars Ben Petty, Brandon Stevens, Dustin Sparks and Steven Cowgill on the court for a special ceremony with each senior's families.
The Lady Cougars are set to face Maynard at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the district tournament at Cherry Valley. With a win, the Lady Cougars would face either Marked Tree or Cross County at 4 p.m. Thursday. A second round win would advance Rector to the semifinals against top seed BIC at 7 p.m. Friday. The tournament finals are slated for 6 p.m. Saturday.