Lady 'Cats suffer first district loss, 44-42

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By Marty Maston

If you were at John Jackson Memorial Gym in Coalfield Friday night you received your money’s worth as the Coalfield Lady Jackets used a furious rally to stun the seventh ranked Lady ‘Cats of Oliver Springs then the Coalfield boys held off a late charge from Oliver Springs to snap a three-game district losing streak.

Girls Game

Lady Jacket senior Samantha Hamby scored on a put back with four seconds left to cap a stunning comeback for the Lady Jackets 44-42 over the Lady Cats handing Oliver Springs their first district loss of the season.

Early on there was no indication of an epic finish as the Lady ‘Cats stormed out of the gate to a double digit lead quickly. 

The Griffith twins, Emily and Rachel, were too much to handle in the opening quarter combining for 11 of the Lady Cat 19 points. Macy Martin was a force on the inside scoring four points and pulling down four boards for the Lady Cats in the opening quarter as they led 19-6 over the Lady Jackets.

The Lady Jackets would start chipping away after the Lady ‘Cats built their biggest lead at 23-8. Hamby started the rally with back-to-back three pointers to pull Coalfield within 23-14 at the 3:05 mark. 

An Alix Giles three seemed to stop the bleeding for the Lady Cats momentarily, Coalfield’s Mackenzie Cox and Hamby each drained baskets to end the half with Oliver Springs leading 29-18.

Stifling defense and five straight points from Cox trimmed the lead to 29-23 early in the third quarter. The Lady Cats did not score their first point of the third quarter until the 4:02 mark when Senior Kellie Ball scored on a lay-up to make the lead 31-23. The Lady Cats would hold an eight-point lead through the remainder of the period.

Coalfield’s defense continued to be the key to the their comeback as they made points hard to come by for the Lady Cats. Jessie Jordan and Grace Hensley drained jumpers for the Lady Jackets to cut the Lady Cat lead to four with 6:15 left in the fourth quarter.

The only points the Lady Cats could muster in the fourth quarter were five free throws from the Griffith twins, the  last being Emily’s free throws with 2:01 remaining to give the Lady Cats a 42-38 lead. 

Hamby would get the Lady Jackets as close as they had been all night with a jumper from 18 feet to close the lead to 42-40 with 1:30 left. An Oliver Springs turnover led to another Hamby basket that tied the game with 55 seconds left. 

After another turnover, Coalfield would run the clock down and Hamby would grab a rebound off a missed shot and lay it in with only four seconds left. 

After an Oliver Springs time out they would get one more shot off and it went in, but it was after the buzzer and the Lady Jackets had pulled off the upset. 

Hamby led the Lady Jackets with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Mackenzie Cox chipped in 10 points for the Lady Jackets. 

Emily Griffith led the Lady Cats with 12 points.

Oliver Springs (42) E. Griffith 12, Martin 10, Griffith 7, Giles 6, Ball 5, Snellings 2.

Coalfield (44) Hamby 23, Cox 10, Layne 4, Jordan 4, Hensley 3.

Boys Game

In a game where the largest lead was seven points, Coalfield used a big night from Hayden Ariaz and a little lady luck  to hold on for a 62-61 victory over Oliver Springs.

In probably the longest first quarter in state history, the two teams battled with Oliver Springs holding a 14-11 lead. The game was delayed due moisture on the floor for roughly 35 minutes. 

Oliver Springs’ Dakota Thompson drained a three-pointer at the buzzer to provide the difference after one quarter. Ariaz was the bulk of the Jacket offense, scoring eight points.

The Yellow Jackets started the second period on a 9-1 run led by Ariaz and Jonathon Rainey to open a 20-15 lead with 5:10 to go in the first half. The Bobcats came right back with a 7-2 spurt to knot the game at 22. A three-pointer by Kane Simpson and baskets by John Simms and Taylor Murray were key in the run. 

In the remaining three minutes, Bobcat senior Matt Henley did his best to keep the Bobcats in front scoring six points of the half, but a late basket by Reggie Aikens gave Coalfield a slim halftime lead 31-30.

The second half started with a Yellow Jacket run that produced their biggest lead of the night. Jason Lee, Ryan Hill and Rainey all produced in the spurt that built the Yellow Jacket lead to 39-33. The teams battled evenly the remainder of the quarter and we headed to the fourth quarter with Coalfield leading 48-42.

After a quick 7-0 run to start the final quarter by the ‘Cats, they had the lead back at 49-48 with six minutes remaining. 

After a lay-up by Lee had given the Jackets a brief lead, Coalfield had a costly technical. Oliver Springs made both free throws and scored on the ensuing possession to take the lead back 53-50.

Coalfield would answer with four quick points, and hey would battle back and forth until the final buzzer. 

With Coalfield leading 62-61, the ‘Cats forced a turnover with 32 seconds remaining to give themselves a chance. Oliver Springs would have three shots in the final 10 seconds from inside of eight feet, but all three rolled off as Coalfield escaped with a 62-61 win.

Coalfield was led by Ariaz with 26 points and four assists. Rainey chipped in 13 points and had nine rebounds.

Henley paced the Cats with 16 points and six rebounds. Thompson and Simpson added 11 points each for the Cats.

Oliver Springs (61) Henley 16, Thompson 11, Simpson 11, Simms 9, Noe 7, Murray 6, Miller 1.

 Coalfield (62) Ariaz 26, Rainey 13, Aikens 8, Hill 4, Keener 4, Lee 4, Johnson 2, Hensley 1.