SPORTS HEADLINES

Paradise holds off Lady ‘Jackets

By Clay Corbett | Published Wednesday, December 18, 2013

For three quarters Friday the Boyd Lady ‘Jackets were threatening an early district upset.

HANGING ON – Paradise’s Kaylee McConnell looks to make a pass down court Friday against Boyd. The Lady Panthers held on for a 50-41 district opening win. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

But in the final eight minutes the Paradise Lady Panthers pulled away and held on for a 50-41 league-opening victory.

“We finally got some shots to go,” Paradise coach Kevin Pope said. “Early on we weren’t making shots that we usually do, game-in and game-out, and down the stretch we didn’t panic.”

With the game tied 18-18 at the half, Boyd was two quarters from shaking up the early standings in District 9-2A.

Abbey Harrell gave Boyd a lead less than a minute into the third with a 3-pointer, and Amber Montgomery jumper put the Lady ‘Jackets up 25-20.

“We felt good. What we were doing was working and our kids were playing hard,” Boyd coach Lynn Cranfill said. “What really hurt was when McKenzie [Elkins] went down with cramps.

“When that happened we got down by five, and it was hard to come back.”

Paradise ended the third quarter on a 15-5 run. A 3-pointer at the buzzer was waved off, or the lead would have been eight.

Makala Neighbors scored six straight points, all from the free throw line, to end the period for Paradise. She wound up the leading scorer with 19 points.

“She [Neighbors] had a good night,” Pope said. “That was far from her best game, but without her tonight there would have probably been a different outcome. She did a good job of hitting some shots when we needed them.”

Paradise’s defense dialed it up a little more in the fourth. They scored the first 10 points of the period to put the game away.

“Their press gave us some trouble,” Cranfill said. “We handled it OK in the first half, but they stepped it up a little bit.”

Boyd cut it to 48-41 with 45 seconds left, but was unable to get any closer.

Paradise had a difficult time handling the Lady Jacket defense in the first half. Both teams struggled to find their stride in the first two quarters, after each team had a week layoff due to the ice that hit the area.

Neither team wanted to use that as an excuse.

“Coach Cranfill came in with a good scheme to stop us, and the shots we needed to counteract that we didn’t hit,” Pope said.

Paradise’s Makenna Burt finished with 11, and Kaylee McConnell had eight. Jett Preather added five.

Boyd was led by Harrell with 23. Montgomery and Elkins each scored six. Taylor Ragsdale tossed in four.

Paradise hosts Millsap Friday, while Boyd travels to Alvord.

Nice Game

NICE GAME – Paradise’s Makala Neighbors defends Boyd’s McKenzie Elkins Friday. Neighbors led the Lady Panthers with 19 points. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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