Buoyed by a 35-point performance from Allyson Anderson, the Lady Raiders nearly stunned the Russell County Lady Lakers during their season opener Thursday night.
Anderson led all scorers in the 75-64 loss, but a strong second half Lady Laker surge and McCreary foul trouble erased a Lady Raider lead and allowed Russell County to claim their first win of the season.
It was a tale of two halves as the Lady Raider defense clogged the middle in the first two quarters, limiting the amount of opportunities for the Lakers to score from in the paint. Russell County only shot 40 percent for the first half, including only one of seven from three-point range.
McCreary, despite shooting only 46 percent in the half, benefitted from nine trips to the free throw line where they hit 14 of 17 attempts.
Anderson scored 20 points in the first 16 minutes, including three tries to push her squad to a 41-31 lead at the first break.
The Lakers’ adjustments at halftime took their toll against McCreary in the third quarter.
Stepping up their efforts to take the ball inside and challenge the Lady Raiders’ defense proved to be a changing point. In the third quarter McCreary was called for 10 fouls to Russell County’s 2. While the Lady Lakers only hit 5 of 12 free throws in the quarter, the mounting fouls put several Raider players in foul trouble and limited their playing time in the second half.
After outscoring McCreary 13-2, with 2:30 left in the third quarter Russell County took the lead, 45-43, and would hold on to that lead for the remainder of the game.
The Lakers led 54-49 at the end of the third period, but struggled to put the game away.
Despite a 13-point fourth quarter from Russell senior Kailey Coffey, the Lady Lakers were not able to expand their margin much beyond 6-points until late in the period thanks to a continued strong effort from the Lady Raiders – even with three players fouling out.
16 16 22 21 – 75
20 21 8 15 – 64
A. Anderson -35,
C. Kiser -10,
L. Phillips -5,
B. Sluder -4,
R. Anderson -3,
M. Welchel -3,
B. Stephens -2,
E. Anderson -2.