Shifting games around due to the winter storms, the Lady Dragons managed to work in their week’s games, bringing home the victory as they played away at Marsh Valley and Aberdeen. The games proved to be important learning experiences for the MHS girls basketball team as they struggled in the first half in both games. But being the determined and fierce team that they are, they found it within themselves to bring back their intensity and focus to win the games.
Playing against the Eagles on Wednesday, January 10, the Lady Dragons found themselves trailing behind on the scoreboard for most of the game. The young Marsh Valley team brought a quick, in-your-face defense that seemed to fly around the court as fast as the ball did.
Going into the fourth quarter, the Lady Dragons were behind 37-40 on the scoreboard. With renewed intensity, both offense and defense stepped up their game as they returned for the final quarter of the game. The defense, stepping up the pressure to force Marsh Valley to rush their shots, found ways to convert their hustle into scoring opportunities on the other end of the court.
Brynnlee Jones grabbed a big rebound in Eagle territory, passing to outlet Izzy Haycock on the wing. Pushing the ball down the floor, Haycock connected with Hallie Horsley for the layup despite defenders hot on her heels to bring the score within one point. Marsh Valley wasn’t about to give up, putting up five points before Malad answered. But as they did, they went on a 10-0 scoring run.
The Lady Dragons surged as their inside game took off as Olivia Nelson grabbed the offensive rebound and put it back in for two points. On the next Malad possession, Horsley posted up, making a move to the basket for another Lady Dragon score. Point guard Haycock drove down the lane for the lay in, making the basket and the extra point after being fouled, finally taking the lead 47-45.
With the lead in hand, the Lady Dragons never looked back as they pressed on with another scoring drive, this time from Mikell Keetch. Keetch set up Horsley for Malad’s next two points, bringing the ball down the court to the right wing where Jones came to set a screen. Slipping the screen and drawing the defenders with her, Jones slipped to the key, giving Keetch the open lane where a Marsh Valley defender stepped in at the block. Without missing a beat, Keetch passed the ball to Horsley on the opposite block for the score.
Desperate to take the lead back, Marsh Valley became aggressive and turned to fouls. The Lady Dragons stepped up to the challenge as Nelson, Keetch, and Oakley Hebdon went six for eight at the free throw line to finish off the game 57-51. Nelson put up another double double as she had 15 points and 14 rebounds, with Horsley close behind with 13 points and 8 rebounds. Keetch added another 9 points and 5 rebounds with Hebdon posting another 8 points and 2 rebounds.
Rescheduling their away game to Aberdeen from Friday to Monday, January 15, the Lady Dragons took down another conference opponent. Ready to defend their home court, the Tigers came out in a big way, challenging the less intense Malad team. Talking over their less than best performance in the opening half, the Lady Dragons were determined to bring a new game to the second half.
It didn’t take long to see their renewed focus in the game as they tightened down their defense and began hitting their shots on offense. Jones hit three big three pointers as the Lady Dragons came back out on the court. Horsley exploited the Tigers weak defense as she repeatedly drove the baseline, putting up six points on layups and hitting six for seven shots from the free throw line. The Lady Dragons surge posted twenty-seven points over the third quarter to take a commanding lead, 62-33.
Putting up one more score to run the clock continuously, Malad continued to dominate the game as they went 10-1 in the final quarter of the game, finishing 72-34. Despite the sluggish start, Horsley posted 24 points, 18 rebounds, 5 steals and 3 blocks, going 8 for 10 at the free throw line. Jones added another 18 points and 9 rebounds. Off the bench, Keetch led in assists with 7.
After the week’s games, Coach Trevor Jones commented, “We are proud to see our girls bring home the win even when they aren’t playing at their best. When it comes down to it, they can bring in their focus and energy to win games. Now we need to work on being consistent with that focus and energy from the tip off to the final buzzer. They have so much talent and potential and we love to see when they put their best effort on the court.”