Lady Junior Cyclones dispatch Vance

By Michelle Pope
STAR STAFF
mpope@starhq.com

   It was an exciting night for Jr. Cyclone fans at TAD as both the seventh and eighth-grade girls' basketball teams took down Vance. The varsity Jr. Lady Cyclones controlled the entire game, never falling below a two-point lead, and driving the game home with a 31-25 win.
   The score of the junior varsity game never widened more than six points in either direction until the final buck fourteen of the suspenseful overtime, when the Lady Cyclones made an eight-point scoring run to win the game and hand Vance their first loss.
   Driven by Danielle Montgomery with six first-quarter points, the Vance seventh-grade girls took an early 9-5 lead. By the end of the first half, TAD had nearly caught them, with a score of 14-12. Vance played a harsh third quarter, when Montgomery scored seven of their ten points. The Jr. Vikings had opportunity to damage TAD further with foul shots, but failed to execute from behind the line. Mariah Pietrowski scored four of TAD's sole six points during the third.
   "We were just trying to get to the basket, and we got to the line - we just didn't make the free throws," said Vance JV coach Charlie Tiller. "I don't even know how many free throws we missed but it was a bunch. That's just part of the game. Our girls played hard."
   Pietrowski handled the fourth-quarter scoring, sinking three baskets and a point from the courtesy line, bringing the Jr. Cyclones within two points, at 27-25, with less than a minute left in the game. After a timeout, and with the ball in TAD's possession, three of the Lady Cyclones formed an inbound stack. Distracted by the commotion, the Vance players tried to pry apart the girls, while Kelly Aubrey waited unnoticed in the corner. The pass went to her, and she promptly sank a three-point shot to tie the game at 27, launching it into overtime.
   "Kelly Aubrey came ready to play," said Dugger varsity coach Angie Barker. "She hadn't had a lot of playing time, and we had a talk with her, told her she needed to relax, and she did what she had to do. She played an exceptional game."
   TAD seventh-grade coach Pam Norris said she and Barker told the girls to relax and settle down in the final timeouts during the fourth quarter and overtime. "We had a couple of them that were panicking every time they got the ball," said Norris. "We were just telling them to relax and calm down, to make good passes."
   Lauren Taylor, Pietrowski, and Aubrey saved the day, scoring eleven points in overtime. Aubrey displayed her quick reflexes again when sank the game's only three-pointer from a pass inbounds, and Taylor and Pietrowski scored four points each.
   "You've got to give them a lot of credit," Tiller said of TAD. "They played really well. They really played outstanding basketball. Pietrowski kicked our butts this time. She's a tough player. My hat's off to them."
   In eighth-grade action, Leah Henson promptly put in six points, and a one-handed over the head arch shot from Kyla Jones gave the Lady Cyclones the eight-point lead by the end of the first frame.
   A round of free throws helped TAD in the second, as Hannah Fritz made three, and Henson made two. Henson and Jones added field goals to make the score 17-11 going into the half.
   "We tried some new things," said Barker. "We tried to reset the defense, and we tried to work the offense to our favor instead of panicking and trying to throw the ball somewhere and trying to get a shot off. We didn't have to - we were in the lead, and we took advantage of that."
   Scoring from Fritz, Henson, and Pietrowski boosted TAD to twenty-three against Vance's sixteen by the end of the third. In the final quarter, the Jr. Cyclones racked up on foul shots, with four players taking their turn from behind the line. The result was six points, and with a steal and layup from Jones, Dugger won the game, 31-25.
   Henson led the Dugger varsity team in scoring, sinking thirteen points. Nakita Jones scored the most for Vance, with eleven.
   "Dugger's team was ready for us; Dugger's team was more hungry for it. They wanted revenge for the other loss," said Vance eighth-grade coach Danny Montgomery.
   "We hit shots that we hadn't been making," said Barker. "Leah Henson stepped up really big. Mariah Pietrowski played a great game. Hannah (Fritz) really stepped up, and Kyla, she had a little foul trouble, but she controlled it. We controlled the game, period, and that was a big plus."
   "They're extremely aggressive," Barker added. "That's the most aggressive team we've played, and they're good. They're very good. I'm very pleased that we beat them."