Updated Sun, Feb 23, 2014 3:36 pm
The Alexander Lady Spartans went home with a win after beating the Piketon Lady Red Streaks 41-29.
After a slow start from Alexander in the first quarter, they turned it up for the remaining three with their unbreakable zone defense and ability to make foul shots.
“Our motto has always been, we go as our defense goes,” Alexander head coach Scott Hinton said.
While both teams had their moments, making shots was a hurdle for both. It was foul shots that brought in the points for both teams.
Spartan guard Leah Richardson was a leading force on offense, scoring 21 of the team’s 41 points. She proved herself on defense as well, with seven rebounds.
In the last seconds of the half, Alexander’s Makina Milum missed the layup off of her fast break, allowing Piketon’s Emily Legg to create her own fast break lane down the court, missing the shot as well.
Piketon started the second half ahead 17-13 in a 1-2-2 zone, which proved to be initially problematic for Alexander, as the Spartans missed four shots in a row in the first minute and a half of the second quarter.
Things started to get interesting when Alexander’s Kendall Meeks and Allyson Malone collided while diving for a rebound, Malone tumbling into a backward somersault. The pain was for a good cause, however, as teammate Kat Weaver pushed the ball up the court, making a jump shot in addition to a foul shot off of it.
Piketon fans chanted an array of “USA” cheers decked out in body paint, while Alexander went into a full court press, taking a 20-19 lead with 2:55 left in the third quarter.
Alexander continued the lead on Piketon with a score of 27-21 at the top of the fourth quarter. In the first fifteen seconds, Piketon turned the ball over clearing the way for Spartan’s Malone to get a standing ovation worthy three point jump shot.
Piketon’s Aleah Pelphrey was on fire when she was taken out of the game with just 2:25 left as a result of her fifth personal final. Teammate Ashley Lewhorn tried to get the ball rolling again for her team, but missed a fast break layup, losing the Lady Red Streaks’ momentum.
Richardson continued to prove her worth, being called to the foul line three times in 30 seconds, making all six of her shots, with just 42.8 seconds left in the game.
Piketon’s players started throwing themselves into every foul presented to them, trying to extend the clock.
In the final minute, star Piketon players Katie Ward and Kalen Jenkins became the second and third players to foul out. All three girls who were removed buried their heads in their towel, as they watched the clock run out and their chance at moving on to further their season disappear.
Hinton knows his team will need a stellar week of practice to prepare for their district title game against No. 1 seed Fairland on Mar. 1.
“We have to work hard this week, this next game is going to be more of a full-court one,” Hinton said. “It is another challenge presented to us, but our girls are prepared.”