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The Marion County Lady Knights entered the fray guns blazing as they opened a double header against the visiting North Hardin Trojans on Feb. 16. Marion County fell to the Trojans 65-59 in overtime.
“It turned out to be a great game between two competitive teams,” Lady Knights Coach Anthony Epps said in an email after the game. “I like the way our team battled, and you have to give North credit for battling as well.”
Back and forth play would be the theme for much of the afternoon and the first quarter was no exception. Senior center Alexus Calhoun would score on a handoff from freshman forward TeTe Adams to make the score 7-6 in the Trojans favor.
Calhoun would lead the Lady Knights in scoring with 23 points and 14 rebounds.
Epps said Calhoun never disappoints with her play and that Adams may be small in stature but she can play a good game.
The teams would remain neck and neck until the Trojans (16-8) ended the period in the lead on a pair of free throws.
In the second quarter, an assist from Adams to freshman point guard Haeli Howard would bring the Lady Knights within one point, 25-24. They would briefly take the lead on a three-pointer made by senior guard Timera Burton.
Freshman guard Kaylee Wheatley would punctuate the first half with a field goal to give with the Lady Knights a 33-30 lead at the break.
Defense by Calhoun and Adams in the third quarter would slow but not stop the Trojans drive. Sophomore guard Samantha Daughtery would force a turnover that would allow Calhoun to tie the game once again 39-39.
The period would end with the Lady Knights grasping the lead, 43-41.
The fourth quarter would see the Trojans tie the game 53-53 on free throws. Despite a hard push by the Lady Knights (12-12), they would not be able to break the stalemate before the buzzer.
With both teams in foul trouble, Epps thought the Lady Knights depth give them an edge, but the Trojans pulled out the win.
“They just seemed to make more plays than us. We had about three shots to win it in regulation, but just couldn’t get any of them to go,” he said.
Calhoun would score first in overtime on a free throw. The Trojans would answer however, by making a three-pointer and forcing a turnover to score again.
From there, overtime would be decided by free throws.
Epps said there was a combination of 74 free throws made during the game and neither team could adjust to the flow.
With 7.5 seconds remaining, Howard would add one to the board. The Trojans would end the game by running out the clock.
“It just came down to ball security and missing free throws,” Epps said. “If we can get better in those areas, then we will be a tough out for any opponent come tournament time.”
On Feb. 13, the Lady Knights defeated the Adair County Lady Indians on their own turf, 53-51.
“You can always expect a tough game against Adair County because they are very well coached,” Epps said. “We knew going over to their place and the number one seed on the line that it was going to be a great matchup.”
The Lady Knights were led in scoring by Howard and Calhoun. They scored 12 and 10 points with one and five rebounds respectively. But, the Lady Knights got a big contribution from Adams in the win.
“TeTe Adams really played well for us coming off the bench and contributing nine points and six rebounds,” Epps said. “Evelyn Taylor is another that has gotten better as the season has progressed and gave us another fine effort against Adair. They both played with a lot of energy on a night that we were flat for the most part. Kaylee Wheatley also contributed nicely for us off the bench.”
Freshman guard Kaylee Wheatley and senior guard Evelyn Taylor each added eight points, while sophomore guards Rae Mills and Samantha Daughtery each contributed three points to the team’s efforts.
“Every game, win or lose, we try to learn from it to get better for the next contest,” Epps said. “The biggest thing from our game against Adair, is that we have to value the basketball and cut our turnovers down. Less turnovers mean more scoring opportunities.”
He said he was proud of the Lady Knights play in the second half. The difference between the two teams was compensation, timing, and heart.
“I think the major difference was cutting our turnovers down in the second half and making some timely three pointers throughout,” Epps said. “The kids never gave up and continued to work hard throughout the contest. (I’m) just very proud of the second half effort our team showed.”
Winding down the season
On Tuesday, the Lady Knights took on the Hart County Lady Raiders (5-16) after press time.
From here, the Lady Knights will wind down their season by hosting the Mercy Academy Jaguars for their season finale on at 7:30 p.m. Feb 20.
Epps said that the Jaguars (11-11) have been extremely competitive in the past and he was expecting no less this season.
“They are very well coached and play extremely hard,” Epps said. “(It) will be a great challenge for us, but it is also a chance to send our seniors out with a victory in their final regular season game ever in the Roby Dome.”