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By Jimmie Earls
Sun Sports Writer
With the 19th District Tournament approaching, the Washington County Commanderettes got some much-needed momentum Wednesday night as they hosted the LaRue County Lady Hawks in what turned out to be a thrill ride of a game. Although the young LaRue team put up a good fight, it would be the Commanderettes who would come away victorious as they held on for a 64-61 win.
“LaRue came in ranked in the top six in the region with a 14-10 record, and our kids came out ready to play,” said Commanderette head coach Bernard Smalley.
Things didn’t look promising for Washington County despite a 4-0 lead in the early going. LaRue fought back and took the lead, going ahead 12-10. The Lady Hawks then went on a nine-point run to finish the first quarter leading by a 21-11 margin.
To start the second period, the Commanderettes countered with a run of their own, scoring 11 unanswered to regain the lead, 22-21. Both sides traded punches for the remainder of the quarter, and at the end of the half, the score was knotted at 28 all.
The second half began like the first half ended, with each team temporarily taking the lead while the other would reply. LaRue edged WC as the quarter wound down, outscoring the Commanderettes 20-16 to take a 48-44 lead into the last frame.
Washington County fought its way back to start the fourth quarter. Sophomore Shay Yocum went to the free-throw line for WC and tied the score at 51. Clutch free throws by seniors Pooh Railey and Morgan Burton edged WC ahead slightly, giving them a 56-53 advantage with 2:31 left to play. Railey and Burton also sank a bucket each, and WC led by as many as eight points with under a minute to go, with Burton hitting one of two free throws to put WC up 61-53.
But the Lady Hawks would not go quietly, and they found a way to battle back into the game.
With 22.6 seconds left, Turner added two from the line to increase WC’s lead to 63-57. LaRue’s Alexis Brewer hit one of three from the charity stripe and Turner hit one of two for WC as the Commanderettes led 64-58 with 12 seconds remaining.
As the Lady Hawks got the ball on the inbounds, junior Valerie Whitlock launched a three-pointer to pull LaRue within three points, but it wasn’t enough as the clock expired and the Commanderettes hung on for the 64-61 win.
“We got down 21-11, but for the rest of the game, we played well in all phases of the game,” Smalley added.
See this week's print edition of The Springfield Sun for more of this story.