By William / www.mcpherson-county-ks.com
LINDSBORG – After falling behind by as much as nine in the third quarter, the Smoky Valley girls managed to straighten the ship and make a comeback that ended in a three-point, 36-33 victory over Class 4A, 10th-ranked Clay Center at home on Friday.
The win gives the Lady Vikings a 10-3 mark for the season as they now prep to host Hillsboro on Tuesday.
After taking a six-point, 8-2 lead by the end of the first quarter, the Lady Vikings stumbled in the second eight minutes of play as Clay Center outscored them 18-8 to give the Lady Tigers a four-point, 20-16, advantage going into the halftime break.
Coming out of the intermission, Clay Center pushed their lead to as much as nine before Smoky Valley went on a 10-2 run and then played the third quarter out to where the two teams headed into the final quarter tied up at 29-29. In the final eight minutes, Smoky Valley made several key free throws and clinched the final three-point win.
“In a night with wild momentum swings it all came down to finishing as a team,” noted Lady Viking head coach Jason Drouillard. The girls never stopped fighting even when down by nine in the third quarter. We were in a tight corner with Adrian (Hazelwood) in foul trouble, but the rest of the team did an incredible job stepping up to make a 10-2 run in her absence. Katja (Blanchat) and Tinley (Scott) made impacts that will not show up in the box score, but what they did give us was grit and a never ending will to win. Abby (Rose) was electrifying on defense, shutting down a very good shooter and holding her to only four points on the night which was ten short of her game average. Abby’s determination and leadership was vastly needed.”
While the team only shot 27% from the field, Smoky Valley did make 12-of-17 free throws which was the difference as Clay Center only made four free throws on the night. The Lady Vikings also held a difference of 22-12 in rebounds while making 10 steals and blocking four shots.
Adrian Hazelwood led the Lady Vikings in scoring with 15 of which three goals came from the three-point line, while also grabbing three rebounds, making four steals, and blocking a shot.
Breanna Priddy pitched in with 13 points that included making five-of-six free throws late in the game. Priddy also topped the Lady Vikings in rebounds with five while Katja Blanchat grabbed four.
Coach Drouillard concluded his post-game reflections by saying, “Breanna (Priddy) was very steady all night, providing a consistent scorer in the paint and from the free throw line. Adrian (Hazelwood) was huge in the fourth quarter with a couple of big threes in what otherwise seemed like a tough night for her. The girls got back to playing the Smoky Valley way by playing hard, playing fast, and most importantly, playing together. It took every single player tonight and as coaches, we couldn’t have been prouder of their effort.”
Clay Center at SMOKY VALLEY LADY VIKINGS
SCORING: 1 2 3 4 FINAL
Clay Center 2 18 9 4 33
LADY VIKINGS 8 8 13 7 36
Clay Center = FG 12/33 (36%); 3-PTR 5/15 (33%); FT 4/7 (57%); AST n/a; REBS 12; TO 17; STLS 3; BLK n/a; PF 12.
SMOKY VALLEY LADY VIKINGS = FG 10/36 (27%); 3-PTR 4/9 (44%); FT 12/17 (70%); AST 4; REBS 22; TO 15; STL 10; BLK 4; PF 16.
SMOKY VALLEY LADY VIKINGS INDIVIDUAL SCORING & STAT LEADERS:
Scoring (36 Total Points): Adrian Hazelwood – 15; Breanna Priddy – 13; Abby Rose – 4; Gracie Lambert – 3; Katja Blanchat 1.
Three-Pointers Made (4): Hazelwood – 3; Lambert – 1.
Rebound Leaders: Priddy – 5; Blanchat – 4; Hazelwood, Lambert, Kiera Mullen, Tinsley Scott – 3.
Assist Leader: Priddy, Rose, Lambert, Blanchat – 1.
Leader in Steals: Hazelwood – 4; Rose – 3; Lambert – 2; Mullen – 1.
Leader in Blocked Shots: Rose – 3; Hazelwood – 1.