The small schools basketball tournament opened on Saturday at Hampton High School with three games, two on the girls’ side and one boys clash. When the final horn sounded, Central, Little Milligan and Keenburg had all advanced with big wins.
Monica McNair scored a team-high 10 points and was solid on the boards with six rebounds as the Lady Buffs won their opener over the Lady Rebels. The Buffs opened with a 10-6 advantage that swelled to 18-10 by halftime.
The Buffs extended to 28-12 by the end of the third period as Tori Cable tallied four of her eight points in the period and Little Milligan rode out the win from there.
Seven Lady Buffs cracked the scoreboard, with Faith Hartley tallying six points and Autumn Pilk adding five. Chastity Greer scored a game-high 11 points, hit the game’s only three-pointer and kept Range in the game for much of the first half.
The Lady Comets got balanced scoring and contributions from everyone on the team as Central pulled away in the second half against the Lady Tigers.
Ashley Harrison and Stephanie Carriger each finished with eight points and the Comets used a big rebounding advantage for second-shot opportunities.
“The last few weeks we have been playing at the bottom,” said Lady Comets coach Bo Bacon. “Tonight we played as good as we are capable of playing. To say that I’m proud of them would be an understatement. We have been working hard in practice on rebounding and tonight we got paid for all that work.”
The Lady Tigers were right in it at the half, trailing 19-13, but turnovers and lack of size inside was the undoing of the Keenburg squad.
“We have height but not width,” said Lady Tigers coach Amy Townsend. “We got a bit intimidated by their size the last few times we played them. Plus we had one starter out and that made it tough.”
The second half was all Central as the Comets allowed the Tigers just two points in the second half. Point guard Linda Espino led the way for Keenburg with 10 points, hitting a three-pointer.
Jacob Hillman scored 20 points by halftime with a variety of driving shots and a pair of treys as the Tigers rolled to victory over the Rebels.
Guard Jesse Edens showed scoring skills as well with eight points and post Evan Carter dominated the paint with eight rebounds and seven points for the Keenburg squad.
“Jacob’s done a good job for us all year,” said Tigers coach Tyler Malone. “This was our best passing and defensive game we have played this year. We had two starters out and had to play kids in positions they haven’t played, but they did a good job. I hope we carry this over to the next round.”
Nathaniel Frost canned a trey for Keenburg and scored five points. Daniel Runyon was high scorer for Range with nine, which included a pair of threes.