The Lady Cougar varsity girls trailed just once early in the first period before taking a lead they would not give back as they defeated visiting McLean County 46-40 in Monday night’s season opener at Cougar Gym.
In the earlier game the JV girls took a lead in the second quarter, then held off the visitors the rest of the way as they defeated McLean 24-22 in a nip-and-tuck affair.
McLean County’s Jade Fulkerson opened the scoring with a lay-up at the 6:32 mark of the first period to give her team a 2-0 lead. It would be McLean’s only lead of the night.
The score was tied twice after that, the last time coming at 4-4 with 4:28 left in the opening period. Senior Breana Minton followed by burying a three-pointer to give Grayson County a 7-4 lead at the 4:04 mark.
The Lady Cougars went on to outscore the visitors 8-3 the rest of the first quarter to take a 15-7 lead into the second period.
After Sarah King scored for McLean opening the second stanza, Lady Cougar senior Sarah Pierce hit a three-pointer and a lay-up to give Grayson County its largest lead of the night, 11 points at 20-9.
McLean County surged back, scoring seven unanswered points to pull back to within four points of the lead, 22-18 with 3:02 left to play in the first half.
Both teams then missed several chances before Grayson County’s Allie Horton hit a lay-up with 1:12 left. Grayson County led by six at the half, 24-18.
Horton picked up a steal on McLean’s first possession of the second half, and sophomore Hannah Saltsman scored on a put-back basket and was fouled at 7:07. Saltsman’s free throw pushed the Grayson County lead back up to nine points, but McLean put together another 7-0 run to cut it to just two points, 27-25 at the 5:28 mark.
The Lady Cougars were able to increase their lead back up to five points, 32-27 with under two minutes left, but McLean’s Whitley Patterson’ buried a three with 1:50 remaining to cut it back to just two points, 32-30. Grayson County led by three points, 36-33 heading into the final period of play.
Saltsman opened the scoring in the fourth quarter with a lay-up to make it 38-33, but McLean scored five straight, including a three-pointer from Maddie Miller, to tie things 38-38 at the 2:32 mark.
Pierce answered with a three of her own, her fourth of the game, to give the Lady Cougars a 41-38 lead, one they would not give back.
Grace White followed by hitting 3-of-4 at the foul line to make it 44-38 with 14 seconds left. McLean’s Lauren Hudson scored with five seconds remaining to make it a four-point game, 44-40 before White was fouled again with one-tenth of a second left on the clock. White hit both bonus free throws for the final six-point margin.
Miller and Patterson both scored 10 points to lead the visitors.
Pierce finished with a game-high 18 points to lead the Lady Cougars and she added three rebounds. White just missed a double-double, finishing with 11 points and nine rebounds. White also led the team with four assists and added three steals as well.
Horton scored seven points and added four rebounds, two assists and four steals. Saltsman also had a good all-around game for Grayson County, finishing with five points, four rebounds and four steals.
Minton scored three points and junior Shannon Smith had two to complete the Lady Cougar scoring.
Both teams started slowly in this game. Grayson County’s Kaylee Masden opened the scoring with a lay-up just six seconds into the game to make it 2-0.
McLean then scored the last four points of the opening period, then scored opening the second to lead 6-2 at the 5:49 mark.
Junior Shannon Smith was fouled shooting a three-pointer at the 4:25 mark and made all three free throws to make it 6-5, then Brandi Minton put Grayson County ahead 8-6 with a three at the 3:59 mark. The Lady Cougars would not trail again.
McLean drew to within two points, 10-8 on a Haven Algood lay-in with 1:52 left before eighth-grader Kenzie Renfrow stole a ball and drove in for a lay-in with 53 seconds left in the first half. Renfrow was fouled on the play and hit the free throw to make it 13-8 and that’s how the first half ended.
An Algood three-pointer at the 4:19 mark of the third quarter brought the visitors to within two points, 15-13, but back-to-back rebound baskets by Masden and eighth-grader Kandler Lindsey pushed the lead up to six points, 19-13 with 2:36 left.
McLean responded by scoring the last five points of the period to trail by just a single point, 19-18 at the start of the fourth quarter.
The visitors outscored Grayson 4-3 at the start of the final period to tie things 22-22 with under two minutes left in the game. Grayson County went to the line twice in the closing seconds for bonus free throws, but both Renfrow and sophomore Brandi Minton missed the front ends and the score remained tied with 41 seconds left.
The visitors had a chance to take the lead with 23.7 seconds left when Keile Jackson went to the line for a pair of free throws, but she missed both shots.
Masden was fouled with 19 seconds remaining and hit both free throws to put her team back on top 24-22. After a timeout, McLean had a couple of chances to hit shots to tie it again, but could not get anything to fall and the Lady Cougars celebrated their first win of the season.
Algood led all scorers in the game for McLean with 11 points. Masden led the Lady Cougars with 10 points and added three rebounds and a pair of steals.
Smith scored five points and led the team on the boards with six rebounds. Renfrow finished with four points, Minton had three and Lindsey had two points and four rebounds off the bench. Mackenzie Edwards, plying for the first time since injuring a knee last season, did not score but led the team with four steals.
All Photos Don Brown | GC News-Gazette Senior Sarah Pierce hit four three-pointers and finished with a game-high 18 points as the Lady Cougars defeated McLean County 46-40 in Monday night’s season-opener at Cougar Gym.
Reach Don Brown at 259-9622, ext. 2016.