ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. - Hot off the heals off a dominating win early in the week, the Independence Lady Pirates looked to close out the regular season with a win on the road against the Cowley County Tigers. The entire game was a tight knit battle going down to the wire with the Lady Pirates winning the thrilling event, 58-57.
"On the road, any win is pretty," coach Leslie Crane said. "Tonight, we played with some great effort and didn't play as well at times, but were able to put together enough effort to come out on top. We completely shut them down in rebounds eliminating second chance opportunities and our players executed to get it done."
'We've gone from struggling to win close games to being a team that knows how to win by relying on each other to get things done and plan to do much of the same in the postseason."
In the first quarter, a bucket for Kierra Crockett got the Lady Pirates on the board for the early 2-0 lead before a jumper from Brenda de Silva tied the game at 2-2, but a foul sent Victoria MIkkelsen to the line to make one of two shots for the lead before another shot by de Silva made it 4-3 Cowley at the 6:51 mark.
Following a Cowley free throw, a three-pointer by Goodluck had the score at 6-5, but Elina Oravakangas made a three followed by a bucket from Ilia Mathis made it a 10-6 lead for the Tigers. A bucket by Sadie Jordan cut the lead down to two before a layup from Paige Granstaff, but a free throw from Jordan had the score 12-10 Cowley for the remainder of the opening period.
The second quarter began with a trip to the line for Granstaff for two points to push the lead to five before a jumper from Crockett, but a layup by Veronica Martinez-Perez made it a five-point lead. with 7:10 A three-pointer by Macie Price cut the lead down to two before a bucket by Mychaell Gray tied it up and Independence took the lead after a three by Fatarah Kinnard making it 19-16 Lady Pirates with 2:45 left in the half. A layup by Granstaff cut the lead to one before a three from Goodluck, but a shot from de Silva brought the Tigers back within two and the Lady Pirates held a 22-20 advantage at the break.
In the third quarter, a jumper from Mikkelsen pushed the Independence lead to four before another bucket from the sophomore, but a Cowley three cut it to three before a bucket from de Silva. A score by Kinnard got the lead back to three before a basket from Brittany Reeves and another jumper from Mikkelsen followed up with a score for Gray making it 34-25 at the 5:52 mark.
A basket by Price gave Independence an eleven-point lead before a score from de Silva and layup by Granstaff followed by another score for de Silva cutting the lead down to five. A layup from Kedranea Addison cut the lead to three before back to back bucket by Crockett and Independence led 40-33 heading into the final minutes.
The fourth quarter began with a three for Julia Nygard before a jumper for Gray, but a score for de Silva had the lead at four before a layup from Reeves. A three by Addison cut the lead to four before a trip to the line for Nygard, but a basket by Kinnard made it 46-42 Independence with 7:06 remaining.
One free throw by de Silva cut the lead to three before a pair of foul shots by Mikkelsen and a jumper from Goodluck, but de Silva was there with a free throw bringing the Tigers within six before another trip to the line for the sophomore cut it to four. A pair of free throws from Addison brought Cowley within two before a layup by Kinnard but a layup from de Silva made it 52-50 with 3:14 remaining.
Gray pushed the lead back to three with a free throw before a basket by Addison, but a free throw by Reeves got it back to two. A three by Emily Hrencher put Cowley up by one at 55-54 before a basket from Reeves but Martinez-Perez regained the lead for the Tigers at 57-56 with 1:00 remaining. Independence took the lead back on a bucket by Crockett and hung on to win the game and head to the Region VI Tournament in style.
Independence (18-9, 13-7) finishes third in the KJCCC East and will host the first round of the Region VI Tournament against the Garden City Broncbusters Wednesday February 27 with tip-off time to be announced.