To say the stakes were high on Friday night in Edina may be an understatement. With a long line of fans snaking down the hallway into the cafeteria waiting for the doors to open at 5 p.m., it was obvious this normally fierce rivalry was going to rise to even greater heights as the two schools would battle for the last Tri-Rivers Conference titles, in the final season of the historic league.
By tipoff time of the girls contest, it was standing room only, and Scotland County did its best to silence the home crowd, jumping out to a quick start.
Calesse Bair scored on a drive to the rim before Abi Feeney found Maddie Brassfield open underneath the basket for an easy score. Chelsea Wood scored in the paint before Feeney sank a jumper to give SCR-I an 8-1 lead and force a Knox County timeout with 5:00 left in the opening frame.
The stoppage definitely slowed Scotland County, which managed just two free throws over the next five minutes. Fortunately the defense kept SCR-I on top 10-6.
Feeney scored on a drive to the basket to start the second period and followed with a jumper to force another Knox County timeout at the 6:42 mark.
Wood scored on an offensive rebound to push the Scotland County lead to 16-8. But just like the first period, Scotland County’s offense disappeared over the final minutes of the second period, allowing Knox County to pull with 20-19 at the break.
The Lady Eagles took their first lead of the night with a bucket to open the third period. Wood kept SCR-I close, scoring all six third period points for her team.
Knox County got a huge momentum boost when Madison McCabe drained a three-quarter court heave at the buzzer. The three-pointer gave Knox County a 31-26 lead and brought the home crowd to a frenzy.
The Lady Tigers title hopes teetered on the edge when Knox County opened the fourth period with a score to pull ahead 33-26. Maddie Brassfield brought her team back from the brink with a huge three pointer. Wood scored in the paint before Feeney went coast-to-coast after a steal for a fast break score that trimmed the deficit to 35-33.
Sophomore Ashleigh Creek had a huge fourth quarter for SCR-I. She hit a free throw and nailed a corner jumper to keep the Lady Tigers within striking distance.
After a pair of free throws by Feeney, Wood scored in the paint at the 1:45 mark to knot the score at 41-41.
Second later Wood found Creek with a nice pass and she converted the three-point play to bring the rally full circle and put Scotland County up 44-42.
SCR-I put the game away at the free throw line to close out the regular season with a 24-1 record and to claim the Tri-Rivers Conference with a 9-1 record, avenging their lone loss to the Lady Eagles.
Wood led the way with 18 points and grabbed a season-high 26 rebounds. Feeney finished with 11 points and dished out 10 assists and Creek added eight points.