INDEPENDENCE, Kan. - After the first few games on the road, the Independence Lady Pirates tookthe court at ICC Fieldhouse in their home opener against the Labette Cardinals. The game was very close for most of the evening, but down the stretch the Lady Pirates broke away for a huge win, 77-54.
"We had to get a lot of our rest time off tonight after not playing in over a week," coach Leslie Crane said. "We got back into our groove in the secondhalf and played defense a lot better to shut the other team down. We just out hustled them,and we've got to get better with our offenses andonce we do that, we'll be alright."
"Brittanyand Kierra are our anchors in the post as are Victoria and Sadie. We're going to play welland throw it inside, but also learned to kick it to the outside for big shots. Going into this weekend, we'll have to reboundand take away full court transition from some teams and by doing that it'll be a great season."
In the first quarter, after multiple miscommunications the Lady Pirates drew first blood with two free throws from Victoria Mikkelsen, but Labette quicklytied the game with a short jumperfrom Diamond Jones. Independence regained the lead with a short floater from BrittanyReeves who banked another shot in for a 6-2 lead at the 7:00 mark.
The Cardinals cut the lead back to two with a layup from DenijshaWilson and then took the lead with a three-pointer by Kathryn Headspethat 7-6. Kierra Crockett regainedthe lead for Independence, but not for long after a quick layup by Headspethmade the score 9-8 at the 4:00 mark for Labette.
Headspethwasn't done as another three stretched the lead, but Sadie Jordan found the basket to bring the Lady Pirates back within two. Wilson extended the lead to four, but Jessica Goodluck was on target fromoutside the arc to cut the lead back down to one. A bank shot from Jessica Martino pushed the lead back to three for the Cardinals and as time expired in the quarter Labette was in the lead at 16-13.
The second quarter began with a quick put back by Reeves to cut into the lead, but at the 8:28 mark DiamoniqueKennedy pushed the lead out to 18-15. The Lady Pirates tied the game after a downtown shot by Ania Markowska, but a foul on the other end gave Labette another lead after two free throws from Kennedy.
Independence again tied the game after a floater by Crockett at 20-20, but Kyla McIntosh found room to split defenders and put the Cardinals ahead just before Crockett tied it at 22-22 and then put the Lady Pirates ahead 24-22 with 2:45 left in the first half.
Momentslater McIntosh tied the game again, but a layup by Goodluck made it a two-point advantage for the Lady Pirates with under two minutes before the half. The lead was stretched to 29-24 after another bucket by Crockett was followed with a free throw, but Jones torched the net cutting it back to two. The torching of nets continued with LoganCollyer coming in clutch from downtown for the 32-27 lead. Labette cut the lead to three after two free throws, but Independence led 32-29 at the break.
In the third quarter, Jones tied the game at 32-32 after a long three-pointer, butthe Lady Pirates regainedthe lead asReeves found her way to the basket. Kennedy made a long shot from downtown to make it a 35-34 Labette lead. The lead was pushed to four after another three from Jones, but free throws from Reeves and Crockett cut the score to 38-36 and then it was tied at 38-38 after a bank shot by Reeves at the 6:25 mark.
A steal and score by Crockett gave Independence a 40-38 lead, but Headspethwas there to tie the game once again and Labette took a lead after one free throw by Martino at the 4:55 mark and then pushed the lead to three after a layup from Wilson.
One free throw from Mikkelsen cut the lead down to two and two more by Collyer tied the game up at 43-43 and then the lead was achieved by Independence with Goodluck finding the basket. Reeves opened the bank to extend the lead to four, but a foul on the other end madeit 47-45 after two free throws from Kennedy. Free throws from Mikkelsenmade it 49-45and a quick turnover made way for Kierra Crocket to push the score out to 51-45 going into the contest's final minutes.
The fourthquarter began with a foul and two more free throws from Mikkelsen and then a bank shot from Markowskato push the lead out to ten. Fatarah Kinnard madegood of an and one situation pushing the score to a 58-45 lead for the Lady Pirates with 8:00 remaining and a breakaway layup by Cayla Trotter increasedthe lead to 15 points.
Buckets by Wilson and Headspethgot the lead down to 11 points, but a bucket by Reeves pushed the score to 62-49 with 5:00 remaining. Reeves answered again in transition and a foul on Collyer scored two more points with free throws.
Goodluck answered a bucket by KiarriLittle pushing the lead back to 17 points and Reeves continued to make it rain with a quick jumper at 70-51. The Lady Pirates outscored the Cardinals 5-2 for the remainder of play and walked off with a 23-point victory in the home opener.
Independence (4-1) takes to the road this weekend in Athens, Texas playing the Trinity Valley Cardinals Friday and the Grayson Vikings in the TrinityValley Classic with both games tipping off at 3 pm.