The McLennan Highlassies moved to 2-1 in conference play with a 92-81 win over the Hill Lady Rebels this afternoon in Hillsboro.
Velma Mitchell exploded for 36 points including seven 3-pointers to lead the McLennan Highlassies to a 92-81 conference victory over the rival Hill Lady Rebels this afternoon in Hillsboro.
McLennan came out with a high level of energy and intensity, playing like a team with a lot to prove. The game began with a series of back and forth baskets by both teams. The game was tied at 12 with 5:40 remaining in the first. That's when the Highlassies stepped up their defense and began to put some distance between themselves and the Lady Rebels. McLennan erupted for a 13-1 run to double up the score, 26-13, with just under two minutes to play in the quarter. The Highlassies held the 29-17 lead after one quarter of play. McLennan held a double-digit lead until late in the second quarter. Hill made a run down the stretch, cutting the Highlassies lead to five at halftime, 51-46.
The Highlassies picked up the level of intensity again to start the third, opening on an 18-3 run to take the 69-49 lead with four minutes remaining in the quarter. McLennan led 75-51 going into the the final quarter. The Lady Rebels cut the Highlassie lead to nine several times in the final period but McLennan's momentum carried them to victory.
Mitchell's 36 points led all scorers. Jaylonn Walker added 13 for the Highlassies. Nadia Hayes and Dariel Johnson scored 12 and 10, respectively.
The Highlanders and Rebels fought a hard battle from the opening tip to the final buzzer. McLennan came away with a 78-74 victory to remain undefeated.
The game was tight from start to finish, with neither team holding more than a 12-point lead at any point in the contest. Hill opened the game on a Shaw jumper in the paint to take the early 2-0 lead. McLennan's Hayden Hunter drained a 3-pointer from the corner less than 10 seconds later to put the Highlanders up 3-2. The game was tied at 8 with 16:25 to play in the first half. The Highlanders used a 6-0 run over the next two minutes to create a little space from the Rebels. Hill tied the game at 24 with 7:28 on the clock. Isaiah Gurley hit back-to-back 3-pointers to spark the Highlanders and return the McLennan lead back to six, 30-24. A Julius Palmer dunk gave the Highlanders their largest lead of the first half, 35-27, with 4:17 to play. McLennan held the 40-33 advantage at the break.
The Highlanders came out fired up to start the second half. Fred Jackson drained two free throws less than 10 seconds into the half and sent the ball flying with a forceful block on Hill's first possession. Gurley chased down the deflected the ball and popped a 3-pointer from the elbow to give McLennan their largest lead of the game, 45-33 with 19:16 remaining in the game. Hill didn't go down without a fight. The Rebels cut the Highlander lead to three, 62-59 with 9:11 to go. Gurley once again proved to be the igniter for the McLennan offense with back-to-back 3 pointers to put the Highlanders back up by nine. But Hill wasn't done. Once again the Rebels rallied, this time cutting the lead to just two points, 74-72 with 17.4 seconds remaining on the clock. Hunter went a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line and the Highlander defense held Hill to two free throws in the final 10 seconds to secure the victory.
Gurley led the way for the Highlanders with 25 points. Shannon Bogues added 18 and 14 respectively. Jackson was a beast on the defensive end of the floor, recording five blocks and five defensive rebounds.
The Highlassies will continue conference play on Wednesday, hosting Cisco at 5:30 p.m. The Highlander will return to action Saturday, Jan. 28.