By: Jim Steele
Friday night, Shelby Davis deposited four triples and scored 18 points as the McKenzie Lady Rebels topped West Carroll 53-31. In the nightcap, the Rebels held off a tough challenge from the visiting War Eagles and came away 64-54 victors. The victory marked a milestone. McKenzie will enjoy its first winning season since the 2009-2010 campaign.
In the opener, West Carroll was every bit of McKenzie's equal, defensively. The Lady War Eagles littered the Lady Rebels' path for much of the first half, but didn't account for Shelby Davis's hot hand. West Carroll didn't have anyone who could match her.
McKenzie and West Carroll teetered back and forth for much of the first half and neither team shot particularly well. The Lady Rebels rolled to a 16-9 lead after one frame. West Carroll turned the ball over nine times in the opening canto while MHS was 6-13 from the floor.
But West Carroll surged to cut the lead to one, 16-15, early in the second. Aubrey Jones scored all five of her points in a 25-second span with a two and a three. But the Lady War Eagles were a paltry 3-13 from the floor. The West Carroll defense was solid for the first five minutes of the second.
In the final 2:37, Shelby Davis scored a two and a three and joined LIlly Bennett for a 10-0 run the the halftime buzzer. McKenzie led 26-15 at the break. Shelby Davis started the third with another three, followed by deuce from Bennett and another up-and-under shot by Jacey Davis, who was crowned homecoming queen in pre-game ceremonies, gave the Lady Rebels a 34-17 lead. West Carroll never got any closer.
Macey Cunningham and Amaya Thompson, off the bench, each scored six to lead West Carroll. Haley Hughes scored four, Gracie Cunningham three, Alissa Butler, Abby Robbins and Octavia Jones each had two and Katie Holt scored one.
Shelby Butler, Bailey Nelson, and Brooke Hobson scored six each for McKenzie. Lilly Bennett tossed in five, Whitley Smith added four, Mikayla Gill and La'Jada Edmonson each had three, Jacey Davis two and Brooke Nesbitt scored one. Bennett led McKenzie with eight rebounds.
In the nightcap, McKenzie turned away a strong challenge from a talented and versatile West Carroll team. What had shaped up to be a compelling battle inside turned into a disappointing exercise in foul trouble. McKenzie center Ben Austin was saddled with three fouls early in the first while West Carroll's Zach Heckert sat out most of the first half with foul problems.
That didnt' stop either one of them. Heckert led the War Eagles with 21 and Ben Austin had a big night with 16 points, including two threes. Both teams, however, utilized other personnel to make it an entertaining game. When Heckert went out, McKenzie dominated the boards, 8-1, in the second.
Lucas King was money for much of the night and led the Rebels with 23 points. McKenzie moved well away from the basketball and, as a result, was able to execute back-door plays or gather some key offensive rebounds. West Carroll wouldn't go away. Sharpshooter Carson Lee Robertson connected with a pair of threes, his last with 3:21 in the second, tied the game at 24. McKenzie's Nate Whitsell wrapped a pair of buckets around King's triple and McKenzie led 31-27 at the half.
As the third quarter unfolded, West Carroll was right on McKenzie's heels. Heckert made an immediate impact upon his return, cutting the lead to two, 31-29. Jermaine Bryant scored with 4:00 remaining in the third and West Carroll trailed 37-37. The War Eagles would get no closer. Ben Austin made his presence known from the perimeter with a big three at the 2:25 mark. He followed a three from King and preceded a hoop from Lazarik Hill and the Rebels had opened a 12-point margin. Heckert connected with four points in the final 90 seconds, then Luke Moore drained a three with :30 to play and the War Eagles pared the lead lead to five, 46-41. King stopped the hemmhoraging with a three at the buzzer and the Rebels led 49-41.
Ben Austin buried a three to start the fourth and McKenzie expanded its advantage to 13. West Carroll never got any closer than 10 the rest of the way, which was the final margin. McKenzie did a nice job managing the game down the stretch, something it struggled to do earlier in the season.
Robinson followed Heckert's 21, with 13 and Moore added 11.
King scored 23 and pulled down seven boards; Austin tossed in 16 points and had eight rebounds.
This was the third game of four this week. Monday, McKenzie visited Clarksburg:
McKENZIE GIRLS 56, CLARKSBURG 45 at Clarksburg: Shelby Davis and Whitley Smith each scored 16 as the Lady Rebels captured a big district road victory. McKenzie fell behind 10-9 in the first frame, but bounced back to lead 34-23 and pretty much kept the cushion there. Rachel Tucker led the Lady Rockets with 16 points and Ashlyn Yarbrough scored 10.
McKENZIE BOYS 64, CLARKSBURG 34 at Clarksburg: McKenzie rolled to a 20-7 lead in the first quarter and the Rebels earned an important district road win Monday night. Micah Austin led the Rebels with 15 points, Nate Whitsell scored 14 and King added 11. Devin Wildridge led the Rockets with 17 points.
McKENZIE BOYS 72, BIG SANDY 31 at Big Sandy: McKenzie claimed a road district victory last Tuesday night. The girls' game, scheduled for Tuesday, as well, was cancelled. Big Sandy forfeited the game because the Lady Red Devils' team had been decimated by flu and only had four available players.
Lucas King paced the Rebels with 28 points. McKenzie connected on 12 triples at the expense of the Red Devils. Lazarik Hill scored 12 and Ben Austin scored 11. Brian Nelson led Big Sandy with eight points. Kolton Christopher and Michael Davis each scored six.