The Madison County match-up between host London and Madison-Plains on Friday, Dec. 20 was a nip and tuck affair for the better part of three quarters.
When the Red Raiders’ Aliyah Hiram split a pair of free throws with 2:15 to play in the third quarter the score stood at 35-33 in favor of the visiting Golden Eagles, but that’s when things changed for good.
Hailey Mayabb was fouled and promptly knocked down both free throws, the Eagles’ Macy McCollister then stole the inbounds pass and drilled a three point shot making it 40-33. Another errand inbounds pass by London (1-5, 0-3 in Mid-State League Ohio Division) bounced into the hands of McCollister who was fouled. She knocked down both free throws and London coach Bob Williams called timeout.
There was exactly 1:52 to play in the quarter, in 23 seconds of game play things went from a two-point affair to a 42-33 Plains lead. An advantage they wouldn’t relinquish in a 61-53 rivalry victory.
“A couple turnovers there really changed the difference in the game,” Williams said. “Then down the stretch we couldn’t make the free throws we needed to make. I guess you contribute that to youth.
“Our pressure was good, we made shots, that’s the most number of points we’ve scored since I’ve been here. But those few turnovers there turned out to be the difference.”
Plains (3-3, 2-2) was able to maintain the advantage it built there late in the third quarter thanks to good ball movement and smart play by a guard-dominated lineup.
“That’s just the rotation we’ve been working with and looking at,” Chris Laslo said. “It’s more guard heavy, they move well and play well together. There’s some chemistry there.”
McCollister led the way for the Golden Eagles, scoring 14 points. Hailey Faulkner had none, while Mayabb and Savanna Nelson both finished with eight and Christan Bowshier scored all seven of her points in the final quarter.
London’s Korren Cunningham scored 12 of her 17 points in the first half, while Mackenzie Minner scored most of her 17 after halftime. Megan Cox also reached double figures, finishing with 12.
The two teams really went after each other, just as you’d expect it in a rivalry contest.
“You throw records out the window because these girls are going to play hard,” Laslo said of his team. “They wanted to get this ‘W’ and gave everything they had. We knew London was going to give us everything they had.”
“We’re getting better, our effort off the bench was outstanding,” Williams said. “We’re getting past the moral victory stage. I think rivalry has been lost in basketball. As close as we are, it’s a good rivalry, it’s clean and it’s hard fought. It’s not based on record it’s just someone you really want to beat and we have that with Madison-Plains.”