Junior Sophie Shearer hit a late three-pointer in overtime and senior Juliah Bault came up clutch at the free throw line in the closing minute as the Russell County Lady Lakers picked up their first win of the season and a crucial early-season district win, 47-43 over Clinton County.
The Lady Lakers watched a 10-point lead at halftime evaporate in the second half, and the two teams finished regulation knotted at 38 after the Lady Bulldogs knocked down two free throws with less than 10 seconds remaining in regulation.
But the Lady Lakers were able to bounce back in overtime to pick up the win. Lady Lakers head coach Brett Blankenship said he was excited to pick up a district win.
“Anytime you get a district win, it’s always good,” Blankenship said. “We came out and did really great in the first half with 25 points but in the second half, I don’t know, we got a little stagnant on offense I guess, and turned the ball over some more. I’m proud of the girls for fighting and winning, and at the end, that’s really what matters.”
The Lady Lakers came out strong in the first half, scoring 25 points which was more than the team put on the board during the entire game in their loss on Tuesday. But the second half saw the team struggle, only scoring 13 points the entire half. In overtime however, the Lady Lakers found some offensive rhythm, scoring nine points in the extra period.
A key part of that was the Lady Lakers point guard, Bault, who kept finding her way to the free throw line during overtime. Bault led the Lady Lakers in scoring with 14 points on the night, which included an 8-10 effort from the free throw line.
“That’s what she does,” Blankenship said regarding his point guard’s late game performance. “When the game gets into crunch time and you need free throws or to make a basket or make the right decision with the ball, you just put the ball in her hands. I’m really proud of her effort too.”
Bault added four rebounds on the night, as well as four assists. If there was a defensive MVP award given, Bault likely would’ve earned that too as she recorded five steals on the night.
On Tuesday, Blankenship mentioned having Shearer back on the floor would make a difference for the Lakers. Shearer scored eight points in her season debut, including two three-pointers, and added four rebounds and a steal.
Shearer was hampered by foul trouble in the first half, something Blankenship attributed to a lack of game experience this season, but said she had an impact on Friday’s victory.
“She is someone that can come in and make big shots,” Blankenship said. “She did it last year during the regional tournament and that’s just what she’s about. She’s someone who steps up at the right time and makes the right plays. I was really glad to have her back.”
Sophomore Mallory Ferguson scored in double digits Friday night, adding 10 points and a pair of rebounds in 16 minutes.
Maleah Preston and Hannah Yates added six points each, and were the team’s leading rebounders with seven and six rebounds, respectively.
Rachel Bolin added three points for the Lakers, along with four rebounds.
The Lady Lakers outrebounded the Lady Bulldogs 29-24 on the night.
The Lady Lakers now head into back-to-back home games with Barren County on Monday and Adair County on Tuesday.