Trailing by as many as 16 points during an ice-cold first half, the Lady Cougars made a huge push to get back into the game in the second half, then pulled out an improbable 44-41 win at Ohio County on Thursday night.
In the first game of the evening, the Lady Cougar JV squad never trailed as they beat the Lady Eagles 34-24 behind a double-double performance from eighth-grader Kenzie Renfrow.
It didn’t seem possible that the Lady Cougars could shoot the ball any worse than they had in their previous game, a 52-42 loss last Monday at Breckinridge County. In that game the Lady Cougars shot less than 31 percent from the field.
But in the first period Thursday evening at Ohio County, the Lady Cougars hit just 1-of-9 from the field, an arctic 11 percent. They hit two more shots in the second period, winding up hitting just 3-of-22 from the field for 16 percent.
Had they been playing anyone other than an Ohio County team that came into the game with just five wins on the season, they probably would have been buried in such a deep hole they would never have been able to climb back out. But the Lady Eagles committed eight turnovers in the first half which led to eight of Grayson County’s 10 halftime points.
Ohio County scored the first seven points of the game and led by eight points, 10-2 at the end of the first quarter. The Lady Eagles then scored the first eight points of the second period to take their largest lead of the night, 16 point at 18-2.
The Lady Eagles equalled that 16-point advantage twice more in the period, the last time coming at the 2:20 mark following a three-pointer by Cristen Scoggins.
The Lady Cougars hit 3-of-6 free throws in the last minute of the first half to trim their deficit to 13 points, 23-10 at the break.
The Lady Cougars began their long climb back into contention by opening the third quarter with a 9-3 run to cut the lead to just seven points, 26-19 at the 3:06 mark. Grayson County’s leading scorer, Grace White, who had scored just two points in the first half, tallied six of the nine points.
Ohio County pushed the lead back up to 10 points before senior Sarah Pierce hit a three-pointer with 42 seconds left that cut it back to seven again, 29-22. The Lady Eagles led by nine points, 31-22 as the fourth quarter began.
White opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back baskets to cut the Ohio County lead to just five points, 31-26 with 6:52 left to play. When Breana Minton scored on a lay-up following a beautiful pass from Pierce, the Lady Cougars had cut their deficit to just three points, 31-28 and the Lady Eagles called a timeout to try and stop the bleeding.
But the Grayson County onslaught would continue. White went 1-of-2 at the line at the 5:44 mark to make it a two-point game, and when sophomore Brandi Minton buried a three-pointer at the 4:58 mark, the Lady Cougars had come all the way back to take their first lead of the night, 32-31.
The Lady Eagles tied things 32-32 when Allison Druin hit 1-of-2 free throws with 4:42 remaining, but White scored and was fouled with 4:35 remaining. Her made free throw gave Grayson County a three-point advantage, 35-32.
But the Lady Eagles would not go down without a fight. Six unanswered points put them back in front by three points, 38-35 with 1:40 left on the clock.
Pierce answered with a three-pointer, her third of the night, to tie things once again 38-38 with 1:27 left. Ohio’s Morgan Marksberry answered with a three of her own and the Lady Eagles went back up 41-38 with 39 seconds left.
Grayson County came down looking for the equalizer and got it, again from Pierce, who took a pass from Brandi Minton and buried the trey to tie it 41-41 with 22 seconds left.
Grayson County called a timeout, and when play resumed, Horton came up with the play of the night when she stole the ball and drove to the basket for what turned out to be the winning lay-in with 11.8 seconds remaining to be played
Ohio County called timeout, but back on the floor, Horton stole the ball again and was fouled with 3.6 seconds left. She hit the first, but missed the second to make it a three-point game and give the Lady Eagles just a glimmer of hope.
Druin took the inbounds pass and was able to let fly a desperation shot from near the mid-court line. Her shot was right on line, but came up just short, clanging off the front of the rim as the buzzer sounded. Druin led all scorers in the game with 18 points.
After her two-point first half, White scored 14 in the second half to lead the team with 16 points. She also led the team on the glass with five rebounds. Pierce finished with 14 points, including four from behind the arc. Horton scored eight points and led the team with six steals.
Brandi Minton scored three points, Breana Minton had two, and Shannon Smith closed out the scoring with one point.
The Lady Cougars scored the game’s first four points, but the Lady Eagles answered with four straight to tie things 4-4 with 1:21 left in the first period.
Bailey Snyder then scored off an assist from Mackenzie Edwards to put her team back on top, 6-4 with 1:01 left. Grayson County would never be headed afterward.
Edwards stole the ball on the next Ohio County possession and was tripped up as she headed up the floor. She landed hard on the knee that was surgically repaired last year and had to be removed from the game. The Lady Cougars led 7-4 heading into the second period.
Ohio County pulled to within a point of the lead, 8-7 following a three-pointer by Paige Smith with 5:03 left, but the Lady Cougars closed out the period on a 9-2 run to take an eight-point lead, 17-9 at the break. Kenzie Renfrow scored seven of the final nine points, including a three-pointer. Renfrow would finish the night with a double-double effort as she finished 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The Lady Eagles scored the first five points of the third quarter to pull to within three points, 17-14, but Grayson County closed out the period with another 9-2 run to lead by 10 points, 26-16 at the start of the fourth quarter.
When the Lady Cougars opened the final period with an 8-2 run, they held their largest lead of the night, 16-points at 34-18. The Lady Eagles closed out the scoring with a pair of three-pointers, but it was too little and too late to make a difference.
In addition to her points and rebounds, Renfrow made it a spectacular night with four assists and three steals. Snyder and Laura Vincent both scored six points off the bench, and Vincent grabbed five rebounds as well. Kaylee Masden scored four points, and Kennedi Cave had two to round out the scoring.
Reach Don Brown at 259-9622, ext. 2016.