March 10, 2011

Lady Tigers Top Schuyler County to Claim Third District Title in Program's History

Big-game jitters abound in the opening minutes Saturday afternoon before Scotland County finally settled down and got to the business of winning just the third district title in the program's history.

The Lady Tigers fell behind early as the offense was slow to get out of the gates. SCR-I could not buy a shot from the perimeter, with the bulk of the limited scoring in the first quarter and a half coming on offensive rebounds.

"We have had our problems with that all year," said Coach Jaryt Hunziker. "It seems like we just hit stretches where we go ice cold shooting the ball. Fortunately our defense has been there all year long to pick us up in a lot of those instances."

Megan Creek came off the bench to spark the Lady Tigers. The sophomore scored on the offensive glass and added a field goal in the paint in the first quarter, but SCR-I still trailed 7-6 heading into the second quarter.

"Megan really came in and gave us a spark," said Hunziker. "Our bench was a key."

Creek's third straight field goal gave SCR-I the lead for good at the 6:36 mark, making the score 8-7. Jamie Shaw continued SCR-I's domination of the offensive glass, scoring on a put back before Skyler Alderton broke the ice from behind the arc, knocking down a three pointer. Creek then connected on a three pointer that made the score 17-11 at the intermission.

Schuyler County struggled to find much scoring as SCR-I Coach Jaryt Hunziker deployed a triangle-and-two defense, with Alderton and Courtney Jackson in man-to-man coverage on leading scorers Leza Ford and Caley Sessions while the other three defenders played a triangle shaped zone.

"After we lost the two girls to knee injuries, we haven't been as strong in man-to-man defense, so we have used some different looks," Hunziker said. "It really seemed to take them out of their game and they got frustrated as the game wore on."

The Lady Tigers seized the momentum to start the third period. Alderton and Courtney Jackson hit back-to-back threes to bring the rowdy SCR-I crowd to its feet.

Jackson connected on another jumper before SCR-I pushed the lead to double digits with a pair of free throws by Ashley Tague to make it 29-18 with 3:11 left in the third quarter.

The Rams scored at the buzzer to close the quarter and then trimmed the deficit to 31-23 early in the fourth quarter as SCR-I struggled with a full-court press. The Lady Tigers also were hampered with foul trouble down the stretch as Shaw and Aimee Dale each picked up their fourth personal foul midway through the final period.

Scotland County seized control for good when Shaw scored inside on a nice pass from Tague to make it 33-24 with 5:01 to play.

SCR-I burned off key time from the clock, running the flex offense to perfection and finally forcing a Rams foul with 2:31 left to play.

Alderton made both free throws, a sign of things to come, as Scotland County went 9 of 10 at the charity stripe in the final minutes to secure the 42-27 win.

"The free throws were huge for us," Hunziker said. "We've had a few other games where we didn't finish the game off, so to do it like that, in their biggest game of the year, I was really proud of them."

Scotland County (18-7) was led in scoring by Creek with nine points off the bench. Tague was a perfect eight of eight from the free throw line and Alderton also added eight points.

Schuyler County was led in scoring by Alyssa Buckallew with eight points. Ford and Sessions were each held to just four points.

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