Playing in the Shelby County Rocket Legends Classic, in Shelbyville on Saturday, the Lady Cougars suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands of the host Lady Rockets, 55-51.
Shelby County fields a very big team, with three or four players at or near six feet, and they dominated play on the boards. They also put three players into double figures, which was more than enough to offset a spectacular day for Grayson County junior Grace White, who finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds.
There were three ties and a pair of lead changes in a closely contested first quarter, which saw White score on a lay-up with 1:10 left to give the Lady Cougars a three-point lead, 14-11. Grayson County led by one, 14-13 heading into the second quarter.
Shelby’s Justus Martin scored on a rebound basket at the 6:33 mark and was fouled. Her free throw gave the Lady Rockets their largest lead of the first half, five points at 19-14.
The Lady Rockets still led by five, 27-22 with 2:34 left in the half, but the Lady Cougars closed things out with a 6-2 run, capped off by another White lay-in with one second left, and they trailed by just one, 29-28 heading into the halftime intermission.
White hit a pair of free throws opening the third period that gave Grayson County a brief, 30-29 lead. The Lady Rockets followed by going on a 15-4 run that saw them take a 10-point lead, 44-34 with 2:36 left in the quarter. Neither team would score the rest of the period and the host team took that 10-point lead into the final period of play.
Shannon Smith’s three -pointer at the 5:46 mark capped a 7-0 Lady Cougar run that cut the deficit to just three points, 46-43. A 6-3 Lady Cougar run followed to tie the score at 49-49 with 44 seconds left to play.
Shelby’s Tyra Jones scored with 32 seconds left to put the Lady Rockets back in front 51-49, but Smith hit a lay-up off a White assist with 23 seconds remaining to tie it again at 51-51.
Sophomore point guard Zephy Gray was fouled with 10.3 seconds left to play and hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to give the Lady Rockets the lead 53-51.
White brought the ball up the floor for Grayson County and as time was winding down, put on a spin move in the lane on her way to the basket, but the ball was deflected away. Lady Cougar coach Daniel Pharris pleaded his case for a foul on the play, but nothing was called.
Instead, Grayson County was whistled for a foul on the scramble for the loose ball, and with three seconds left on the clock Madison Todd hit two bonus free throws for the final four-point margin. Martin led the Lady Rockets with 18 points, while Todd had 15 and Aimee Conley added 11.
In addition to her points and rebounding, White added two assists and a team-high five steals. Smith and senior Sarah Pierce both scored seven points. Allie Horton finished with four points and Hannah Saltsman had three to complete the Lady Cougar scoring.
Reach Don Brown at 259-9622, ext. 2016.