North Adams rallies late to top Lady Warriors 44-43 –
By Mark Carpenter –
It was Round Two of a battle for Southern Hills Athletic Conference supremacy in girls basketball on Jan. 18 at North Adams High School, as the host Lady Devils welcomed the Eastern Lady Warriors to town, looking to avenge an 50-46 loss at Eastern on Dec. 11. The Lady Warriors came to NAHS with a one-game advantage in the big school division of the SHAC, but left in a three-way tie as the North Adams girls rallied in the game’s final three minutes to pull off a 44-43 victory, leaving the two teams tied at the top of the SHAC with Lynchburg-Clay, all with just one conference loss. The win by the Lady Devils also snapped a 24-game SHAC winning streak for the Lady Warriors.
“This will go down as one of the classics when we’ve played them,” said North Adams head coach Rob Davis in his post game radio interview. “I told the girls that if we came out and won this game, we’d take another five days off.”
“We were a little sluggish early and our energy was low, but then we picked it up towards the end of the game. They are so good defensively but I thought we could have worked a little harder sometimes. We did rebound really well, much better than the first time we played them. Our girls don’t quit, they wanted this game pretty bad. We got down six late, went to our half-court trap, and that gave us the energy we needed to finish it off.”
For both teams, this was the first game back after all of the weather delays and there was a bit of rustiness to be found, but the Lady Devils and Lady Warriors are too talented to stay off-kilter for very long. The game began with Eastern’s Morgan Reynolds getting two baskets, but North Adams’ Avery Harper matching that with four points of her own. A Lakyn Hupp jumper gave the Lady Devils the lead, quickly erased by a jumper by Eastern’s Alexa Pennington. That Pennington score began a 7-0 run that gave the Lady Warriors n 11-6 lead late in the first period.
A nice baseline drive and reverse layup by Hupp cut into the Eastern lead, which stood at 13-10 after eight minutes of action.
Now that the cobwebs were all shook off, it was time for both teams to throw their best punches and the second quarter was a story of two very solid defenses keeping points at a premium. Two free throws by Grace McDowell and three points by Harper put North Adams up 15-14 but a Whitney Broughton trey flipped the scoreboard tot he eastern side, and it flipped back a minute later when North Adams’ Madee Shipley drilled a three from her favorite spot in the corner to make it 18-17. Two free throws by Hupp and two by Pennington closed out the fist half that ended with the Lady Devils clinging to a slim 20-19 lead.
Buckets by Hupp and Shipley early in the third frame kept the home team in front, but the Lady Warriors again had an answer, going on a 6-0 run to grab a 27-24 advantage. Back came North Adams with scores by Harper and Hupp to again reclaim the lead, only to see that vanish when Pennington was left wide open in the finals seconds of the period and she drained a “3” to put the guests up 31-28 headed to what promised to be a thrill-a-minute fourth quarter.
A Broughton three-pointer gave Eastern a four-point lead and when Reynolds took one coast-to-coast for a score, the Lady Warriors had suddenly opened up a 36-30 lead with 4:52 to play. If you thought that was the end for the home team, you were wrong as two Harper free throws and a clutch three-pointer off the wing by Hupp cut the deficit to one.
Two free throws by Reynolds pushed the Eastern lead back to 38-35 but the Lady Devils responded and took control for good. Fist, a jumper by Hupp cut the gap to one and then a stick back bucket by Harper put the home team in front 39-38. After Eastern misfired on a three-point attempt, the Lady Devils turned the ball over and the Lady Warriors missed again on their end. That led to Harper getting behind the Eastern defense like a wide receiver and gathering in a lob on a side out-of-bounds play and putting it home to make it 41-38 with less than a minute to play.
After yet another misfire by the Lady Warriors, Harper was fouled and nailed both shots to make it a five-point North Adams lead. After yet another Eastern miss, the Lady Devils grabbed the rebound and Taylor Hesler was fouled with 9.6 seconds to play. The Lady Devils’ senior missed the front end of the bonus and Reynolds drove uncontested to the basket for a layup that made it 43-40 with only three ticks left on the regulation clock.
The ball came inbounds to Hesler, who was fouled again, and went to the line needing just to hit the first free throw to seal the win. She did just that and it turned out to be one very important free throw as Pennington fired in a long three-quarter court shot at the buzzer but that Hesler free throw made the difference as the Lady Devils escaped with a 44-43 home court victory.
The win improved the Lady Devils to 11-2 overall, 8-1 in the SHAC,and was their eighth consecutive win overall. Eastern dropped to 11-3 overall, 7-1 in the SHAC. The Lady Warriors still have two match ups left with Lynchburg and the Lady Devils also have a Feb. 5 date in Lynchburg so the big school race is far from over.
Avery Harper led the victorious Lady Devils with 19 points, and pulled off the double double by hauling down 14 rebounds. Hupp added 17 points as the two seniors accounted for 36 of the 44 North Adams points. Taylor Hesler’s late free throw was her only point of the contest, but she played her usual excellent floor game with 5 assists and 6 steals on the defensive side. Grace McDowell scored just 2 points, but added 4 assists and 3 steals to the winning effort.
“Avery was real excited and ready to play and it showed on the court tonight,” said Coach Davis. “She got here early today and again was just a great leader on the floor for us tonight. We’re locked up in the league now and we will just see what happens the rest of the way,”
(The Lady Devils made it nine wins in a row with a 52-41 win over Chesapeake in the Coach Young Classic on Saturday, Look for a report on that contest in the upcoming weekend edition of The People’s Defender.)
The Lady Devils also took the JV contest as Coach Tony Williams’ squad remained unbeaten, struggling to a 23-18 victory.
In Thursday night’s tough loss, the Lady Warriors were led by 14 points from Morgan Reynolds, with Alexa Pennington adding 13, and Whitney Broughton. The Eastern Brown girls did pick up a big win on Saturday as they defeated Division I Eastlake North 73-70 in overtime.
13 6 12 12 –43
10 10 8 16 –44
E. Brown (43): Broughton 3 0-0 9, Reynolds 5 4-5 14, Malott 2 1-2 5, Farris 1 0-0 2, Pennington 3 5-6 13, Team 14 10-13 43.
N. Adams (44): Hesler 0 1-3 1, Hupp 7 2-2 17, M. Shipley 2 0-0 5, McDowell 0 2-2 2, A. Harper 5 9-10 19, Team 14 14-17 44.
E. Brown (5): Broughton 3, Pennington 2
N. Adams (2): Hupp 1, M. Shipley 1