Round One, Lady Warriors

North Adams’ Avery Harper (34) is fouled hard on this play by Eastern’s Mikayla Farris with 1:53 left in Monday night’s varsity girls contest. Harper hit two free throws to give her team a 47-46 lead, but the Lady Warriors rallied to pull out a hard-fought 50-46 victory.

 

Eastern takes SHAC girls showdown, topping North Adams 50-46 – 

By Mark Carpenter – 

Another night of Southern Hills Athletic Conference excitement came to Eastern Brown High School on Monday, Dec. 11 as the host Lady Warriors welcomed to town the North Adams Lady Devils in an early season conference showdown between arguably the two top teams in the SHAC. A capacity crowd crammed into the Eastern gymnasium, looking forward to watching two teams battle to see which one could make that first early season statement.
Everyone in attendance got their money’s worth as the Lady Warriors and Lady Devils went toe to toe for 32 minutes, each team making runs that the other responded to, and finally, when the smoke had cleared, it was the girls from Eastern Brown defending their home court, getting four points in the final 1:41 of play, taking advantage of North Adams mistakes, to come from behind and hand the Lady Devils a tough 50-46 defeat.
“We just don’t execute well offensively sometimes,” said North Adams head coach Rob Davis after the game. “We’re not disciplined and that’s my fault. I have to do a better job of getting them disciplined and running our sets, and we didn’t communicate at all tonight on the floor.”
“We just stood around too much in the first half , but I give my kids a lot of credit for fighting back in the second half and we just didn’t execute down the stretch.”
When two of the best defensive teams in the area get together, points are expected to be at a premium and that was the case in Monday’s opening eight minutes as the two sides combined for just 11 points. The Lady Devils got a basket from Avery Harper on their first possession of the game, but Eastern got the next five with the aid of a Camryn Pickerill three-pointer at the 3:25 mark. After going scoreless for nearly five minutes, North Adams got another bucket from Harper and a layup from Madee Shipley to take a 6-5 lead after one quarter.
The Lady Devils struggled on the defensive boards all night as the home team crashed the boards with wild abandon, often getting three or four shots on an offensive trip. The second quarter began with Eastern’s Maggie Fultz getting a stick back score to give her team the lead, but a Grace McDowell three-pointer put North Adams back in front as the tone of a back and forth affair was set. A pair of Alexa Pennington free throws tied the game but a put back by Mikayla Farris and a jumper by Whitney Broughton gave the home team a 13-10 advantage, which lasted less than a minute, as North Adams responded and grabbed the lead back when point guard Taylor Hesler banked in a three from the top of the key.
“We really didn’t rebound at all tonight,” said Coach Davis. “I think that just comes down to toughness and “want-to”, we just have to be tougher on the boards.”

 

North Adams point guard Taylor Hesler looks for an open teammate during action from the Lady Devils’ 50-46 loss at Eastern Brown on Monday night.

 

Trailing 14-13, the Lady Warriors had an answer, closing out the first half on a 6-2 run and when Pennington banked in a shot at the buzzer, the home team took a 19-16 advantage to the halftime break.
Though offense was tough to come by in the first half, the third quarter was the exact opposite as the two sides scored nearly as many combined points as they had the entire first half. It was the Lady Warriors who threw the first punch, as a three-pointer by Pickerill and a Pennington put back gave them their biggest lead of the game at 26-18. Back came the Lady Devils, going on a 10-2 run, using the three-point shot as a weapon, getting two treys from McDowell and another from Lakyn Hupp that tied the game at 28 apiece with 2:03 left in the third stanza.
Just as quickly, the momentum shifted back to the Lady Warriors and they ended the third period on a 8-2 run, as an Allison Malott jumper at the horn sent them into the final eight minutes of play nursing a 36-30 advantage.
On their first possession of the final quarter, the Lady Devils sliced that deficit in half on McDowell’s fourth trey of the game, and after an Eastern score, the visitors reeled off seven straight, all from Avery Harper, who stepped outside to hit a rare three-point shot, and with 4:43 to play, North Adams was back in front 40-38.
Again, the lead switched hands as a basket by Morgan Reynolds and two Farris free throws put them back on top 43-40 with 3:09 remaining, but the craziness continued when the Lady Devils got baskets from Harper and McDowell to grab the lead back, but two more Pennington free throws gave Eastern the lead at 45-44 with 2:07 left. The Lady Devils got the ball inside to Harper on their next trip, and she was fouled, hitting both attempts from the stripe to give her side a 46-45 lead at the 1:53 mark, but the game got away after that point.
Eastern took the lead when Reynolds wrapped around a screen and found an open path to the basket for an easy layup to put the Lady Warriors up 47-46 and on the next North Adams offensive set, the Lady Devils turned the ball over and were forced to foul. Pickerill hit one of two from the line to make it 48-46, and the Lady Devils still had the ball and an opportunity to tie or win, but a pass inside intended for Hupp went out of bounds for a second consecutive turnover. Pickerill was fouled again with 7.5 seconds left and the sophomore guard calmly sank both shots from the line to put the final nails in the North Adams coffin, as the Lady Warriors escaped with a 50-46 win and took the early lead in the SHAC standings.
“We just have to battle back and forget about this one,” said Davis. “We’ll get them again but this is still a tough one to swallow because we had it right there and just didn’t execute in crunch time.”
The winners got solid performances from a number of players and were led by Alex Pennington’s 15 points, including 7 of 8 from the foul line for the junior forward. Off of the bench, the Lady Warriors got an important 9-point effort from Allison Malott, with Camryn Pickerill also contributing 9. Morgan Reynolds added 8 points for the victors.
North Adams placed a pair of girls in double figures, led by Avery Harper’s 16 points with Grace McDowell right behind at 15. Lakyn Hupp added 9 for the Lady Devils, who dropped to 3-2 on the season, 2-1 in the SHAC.
Coach Davis and his troops were back in SHAC action on Thursday, Dec. 14, hosting the winless Whiteoak Lady Wildcats and will be on their home court in conference play on Monday, Dec. 18, hosting the Manchester Lady Greyhounds. The crucial rematch with Eastern Brown will be at North Adams on Thursday, Jan. 18.

North Adams
6 10 14 16 –46
Eastern Brown
5 14 17 14 –50

N. Adams (46): Hesler 1 1-3 4, Hupp 2 4-5 9, Shipley 1 0-0 2, McDowell 5 1-2 15, A. Harper 5 5-6 16, Team 14 11-16 46.
E. Brown (50): Fultz 1 1-2 3, Pickerill 2 3-4 9, Broughton 1 0-0 2, Reynolds 4 0-0 8, Malott 3 3-4 9, Farris 1 2-2 4, Pennington 4 7-8 15, Team 16 16-20 50.
Three-Point Goals:
N. Adams (7): Hesler 1, Hupp 1, McDowell 4, A. Harper 1
E. Brown (2): Pickerill 2