West Union overcomes sloppy play to capture third place trophy –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
The numbers don’t lie. 62 fouls, 86 free throws, an infinite number of turnovers, seven girls fouling out of the game, and two solid hours of not-so-pretty action. All of that added up to last week’s McDonald’s Classic varsity girls consolation game at Peebles High School which saw the West Union Lady Dragons facing off with the Manchester Lady Greyhounds.
In the end, the Lady Dragons overcame all the sloppiness to capture a third place trophy, coming from behind in the fourth quarter to hang on for a 48-45 victory.
“I called a timeout late in the game and told them that if they wanted this win, it has to start now with you wanting it the rest of the way more than they do,” said West Union head coach J. R. Kirker. “We have been averaging well over 30 turnovers a game and that has killed us, but we got a lot of good play from everyone tonight to overcome that. We had some great minutes off our bench.”
“The kids love this tournament and it is a big deal to them, though we would rather be playing in the title game. But we never quit tonight, we hung around and kept fighting and that is what we have to do every night. We’re not a high-scoring team, but we will come out and be feisty.”
It was evident early in this third place battle that whoever came out on top was going to have to overcome some incredible obstacles, mostly caused by their own ugly play. West Union began the game by turning the ball over on their first six possessions and not getting off a single shot until nearly three minutes into the game, but found themselves only trailing 3-0 as the Lady Hounds could only muster three free throws during that span.
The Lady Dragons were down 5-0, though the Lady Hounds did not have a field goal, when the green and white got their first field goals of the game, back to back buckets by McKenzie Kirker and Kaylee Welch, both coming off of Manchester turnovers. The first field goal for the Lady Hounds came from Mckenzie Smith, followed by two Raeanna Stamm free throws to put them on top 9-4.
Again, West Union got back to back scores, with Shannon Runyan capitalizing on another Manchester turnover and Mackenzie Bickett getting an offensive rebound and score. Back came the Lady Hounds with a three-pointer by Darrington White and a bucket by Stamm, followed by Runyan drawing the Lady Dragons within 14-10 as the first quarter closed.
Midway though a low-scoring second stanza, West Union scored six straight on a three from Jaycee Baldwin and then of course, three free throws, to take their first lead of the game at 17-16. The Lady Hounds went back on top with two more from the stripe before a bucket by Harley Silvia put West Union back in front, but the half ended with free throws by Stamm and Smith to give Manchester a 20-19 advantage at the intermission, though remarkably they had just four baskets from the field.
With 16 more fouls whistled in the third quarter, the second half slowed to a snail’s pace and turned into a constant march back and forth between the two free throw lines, with a combined 55 attempts going up from the stripes in the final two periods. The score remained tight in the third period with the Lady Hounds keeping their lead, getting a steal and lay-in from C.J. Hobbs and a basket by Kylie Lucas to keep the Lady Dragons at bay.
West Union got a three-point goal from Bickett to pull within one at 28-27, but the Lady Hounds closed out the frame on a 5-0 run, all from the foul line, to lead 33-27 headed to the final eight minutes.
The final quarter may be hard to describe in words, but in fact, the Lady Hounds only managed a single field goal as West Union rallied from behind. Four quick points by Bickett and a Kaylee Welch three-pointer put the Lady Dragons back in front 35-34, but freebies by Hobbs and White gave the lead back to the blue and gold.
West Union then took the lead for good with a 7-0 run, sparked by a put back bucket by Baldwin and a Kirker trey. From the 3:45 mark until the game’s conclusion, every point came from the free throw line except for a bucket by Manchester’s Smith which was part of a three-point play that made it 46-41 West Union. Other than that, everything came from the stripe as the Lady Dragons held on to win an ugly contest, but a win nonetheless, as they held on to capture the Classic third place Trophy, 48-45.
The win was the second of the season for the Lady Dragons, who were led in scoring by 12 points from Jaycee Baldwin, who was chosen for the Classic All-Tournament Team. She was joined in double figured by Kaylee Welch with 10, while Mackenzie Bickett added 9 and Shannon Runyan and McKenzie Kirker 7 apiece. Though they pulled out a win, West Union was just 16 for 36 from the foul line in the game. (The Lady Dragons picked up their third win of the year on Jan. 2, when they knocked off visiting Northwest 56-50 and currently stand at 3-6.)
“Jaycee has been great all season long,” said Coach Kirker. “She has stepped up and done the job so far.”
Manchester (1-10) was paced by 10 points each from McKenzie Smith, C.J. Hobbs, and Kylie Lucas, with Raeanna Stamm adding 7. Hobbs got the nod from the Lady Hounds for a spot on the All-Tournament Team. Losing by three points, the Lady Hounds were an unremarkable 26 of 50 from the foul line, hitting nearly three times as many free tosses as they did field goals.
14 6 13 12 –45
10 9 8 21 –48
Manchester (45): White 1 1-2 4, Smith 2 6-18 10, Friend 0 2-2 2, Hobbs 2 6-9 10, Lucas 3 4-5 10, Hoskins 0 2-2 2, Stamm 1 5-10 7, McFarland 0 0-2 0, Team 9 26-50 45.
W. Union (48): Runyan 2 3-9 7, Welch 3 3-6 10, Bickett 3 2-4 9, Baldwin 3 5-8 12, Silvia 1 0-2 2, Kirker 2 2-4 7, Rowe 0 1-3 1, Team 14 16-36 48.
Manchester (1): White 1
W. Union (4): Welch 1, Bickett 1, Kirker 1, Baldwin 1