Comeback and farewell to seniors highlights week in Lady Vikings hoops
Jamie Shell / (email@example.com)
Before finishing up its regular season earlier this week at Mitchell, the Big Red swept three tough opponents in Western Highlands Conference action last week.
Avery began its week on Tuesday, Feb. 5, with a come-from-behind victory at home against Madison, the only team to defeat the Lady Vikings in conference play this season.
Madison held a lead as large as 20 points at 32-12 with 5:21 to play in the second period, in addition to a 17-point lead at 46-29 with a little more than two minutes to play in the third quarter, only to see the Lady Vikings erase the deficit with 36-20 second-half scoring margin to capture a 61-54 win.
Much of the credit for the Lady Vikings’ surge goes to junior Lauren Burleson, who found the hot hand in the final two quarters, leading all scorers with 30 points while adding six steals and four rebounds. Senior Kelsie Clarke chipped in with eight points and six steals, with seven points from Bre Heaton. Kylie Polsgrove added six points, six assists, five steals and five rebounds, while teammate Haley Woody tallied five points and six rebounds.
“Kylie came in and gave us a defensive spark. We had to do something to change the momentum of the game,” Avery head coach Missy Lyons said. “We were able to eventually take advantage of a weakness with ball handling, and thankfully Lauren had a fantastic game. They shot the ball great early and we had a hard time getting things going, but we did a few things to swing the momentum. I’m really proud of the team for hanging in and believing they could win.”
Avery avoided an upset and letdown when it prevailed 55-42 the following evening against Polk. Avery fell behind 9-8 after one period and 21-20 at halftime before a 35-21 second-half scoring margin, including an 8-for-9 free throw shooting performance in the fourth quarter, clinched the road victory.
Clarke led AHS with 19 points, with 14 from Burleson, 13 from Heaton and eight points from Katie Rigdon.
On Friday, Feb. 8, AHS honored its seniors, as Clarke and Kenzie Thomas received the starting nod from Lyons. Avery trailed throughout the first half against Mountain Heritage, as it could not generate points offensively. MHHS outscored AHS 14-4 in the first quarter, and went on to take a 27-23 lead at halftime.
With the ability to clinch no worse than a tie for the regular season WHC championship, Avery came out firing in the second half. A decisive 17-5 third-quarter spurt gave the Big Red a 40-32 lead after three quarters. Avery made 15-of-20 free throws in the final stanza to maintain its eight-point margin of victory.
Clarke led AHS in scoring with 16 points, with 13 points from Burleson. Rigdon poured in 11 points, while Heaton scored 10 points. Woody added nine points in the win.
Avery will compete at Mitchell next week in the Western Highlands Conference Girls Basketball Tournament.