EDEN — The Lady Phoenix of McMichael continued to show they are for real this season as they picked up an impressive 60-44 win over a talented Dan River team at the Battle of the Border Holiday Classic Thursday afternoon.
McMichael junior Cassidy Tanton had the hot hand early on, dominating in the low post to help the Lady Phoenix build a 10-6 lead in the first quarter. Both teams were running and pressing, but Dan River junior center Takiya Smith was equally as effective in the paint for the Lady Wildcats, as they took over the lead at 15-12 to close out the first period.
McMichael came out strong in the opening minutes of the second quarter. Senior guard Danni Lester hit a runner in the lane, then freshman Faith Robertson got in on the action with a strip that resulted in a fast break score to give the Lady Phoenix back the lead at 16-15. Robertson forced another turnover then flipped a pass to senior Sadie Nester, who knocked down a perimeter 3 for the 19-16 advantage. Dan River rallied once again however, utilizing the inside attack of Smith and Alecia Farmer on the outside. Farmer knocked down a 3-pointer to put the Lady Wildcats back on top at 24-23 with around three minutes remaining in the second period. The Lady Wildcats continued to push and built a two possession lead, but another score in the lane by Lester followed by another by Chandler Joyce on the wing gave McMichael back the lead. Dan River would have the final say of the first half however, scoring on a fast break bucket by Smith which put the Lady Wildcats back on top at 31-30 just before the half ended.
The Phoenix built a three possession lead to close out the third quarter in a closely contested game, but the fourth period turned into an entirely different affair as McMichael gradually wore Dan River down with relentless defensive pressure as they poured on the offense to close out with the 60-44 win.
“I told the girls coming out of halftime, the first three minutes of the third quarter were going to determine the game and we actually put it on display, that when we want to, we can play defense. We allowed just five points in the third quarter and that’s what we needed. We played good defense in both the third and fourth quarters, and when you do that, you are going to win a lot of ball games,” McMichael head coach Taylor Luegers said.
Balance on offense was just one of the story lines that played out for the Lady Phoenix on an afternoon when eight players scored at least 1 point. Robertson, who had the hot scoring hand in the second half, led McMichael with 15. Nester had 13 and Lester added 10 more.
Smith led her team with 16 points, Farmer added 13, including a pair of 3-point baskets, and Noble chipped in 10 to pace the Dan River offense.
McMichael seems to be peaking, winning four of their last five games, and that’s good news considering its going to be Mid-State Conference play the rest of the way.
The Phoenix will host conference rival Morehead next Friday with tip off set for 6 p.m.
M 12 18 13 17 — 60
D 15 16 5 8 — 44