It was a tale of two halves Saturday at the Nichols-Corley Gymnasium on the campus of LaPoynor High School.
Following a free throw with no time remaining by LaPoynor freshman Kitty Eldridge, the Lady Flyers defeated the Athens Lady Hornets 52-51 in overtime.
“You have to appreciate every single win,” LaPoynor coach Jammie Maze said. “Every single game is a momentum builder because everybody tries to put a lot of pressure on these kids because of the uniform they are wearing. They are mostly freshman and sophomores because I got two seniors in there. Every time they hit the floor, it has to be a momentum builder.”
In the first half, the two teams went to the locker room with Athens holding a 13-12 lead. Mimi McCollister lead Athens in scoring at the half with six points.
“What I told the girls is that Athens is a great team,” Maze said. “They were not going to just sit down and score 13 points in one half, and we weren’t going to score 12 points in a first half. They have played very well all year and we knew they were going to bounce back and we have to deal with that. The first half was going to put a lot of us to sleep. We knew they have so many great players to not score.”
The No. 20-ranked team in Class 4A in Athens (11-5) returns to District 14-4A action Tuesday on the road at Canton. The varsity contest is set to begin at 6:15 p.m. The No. 9-ranked team in Class 2A in LaPoynor (11-2) returns to action Tuesday at Cross Roads.
“This is an odd year because we are 11-2 and we don’t know what we are going to come out as because the quarantine has hit us hard,” Maze said. “We got quarantined earlier this year and was playing outstanding basketball. We sat for two weeks and we played terrible when we came back. We were coming out and trying to reinvent ourselves and play team basketball.”
Athens was led by McCollister with a game-high 27 points, six assists, eight rebounds, six steals and two blocks. Janessa Kiser had 12 points, eight rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal off of the bench.
Karlie Cook had eight points, four rebounds, Tori Williams had two points, 11 rebounds and three steals while Kyra Dawson had two points for the Lady Hornets.
LaPoynor was led by senior Staci Whitehead with a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds to go with five steals and one assists. Laura McClelland had 11 points, six rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block, while Eldridge had seven points, four rebounds and one assists.
Markayla Hurd had six points, five rebounds, two assists and four steals, while Tmia Mitchell had six points, five rebounds and one assists and Laney Almon had two points.
In the third quarter, Athens outscored LaPoynor 21-16 to take a 34-28 lead on a layup by McCollister.
Maze said he told the team to work on finding the open areas of the court during the second half of play.
“We wanted to try and run an offense. Some times we would sit there and say where is Staci (Whitehead)?” Maze said. “When we get away from that, we actually play better. It was other girls getting involved and we saw on film they had certain areas that would be open. We wanted to take advantage of them and had been practicing them for a couple of days. In the second half, we decided to do that and play more team basketball.”
In the fourth quarter, Eldridge and McClelland did just that as McClelland hit the game-tying 3-pointer with 28 seconds left to tie the game at 44. Eldridge then had a big rebound and got fouled to end the game hitting 1-of-2 free throws.
In overtime, Athens held one lead at 49-47 on a 3-pointer by Cook for a 49-47 advantage.
Maze praised the play of McClelland, Hurd and Eldridge for their play throughout the game.
“We need to play more team basketball,” Maze said. “Everybody has to just sit there and trust themselves to play. We have too many sophomores and they get scared. Laura McLelland hit a big shot and Markayla Hurd played phenomenal at the top of the zone. We have a lot of young kids all the way around.”
In junior varsity action, LaPoynor defeated Athens 46-24.