Lady Dragons Basketball split games before the holiday break

Before leaving for the holiday break, the Malad girl’s basketball team played games at Ririe and North Fremont, splitting the games with a win and a loss. Having previously played both teams at home, the Lady Dragons knew every game would be a battle, every game proving how right they were.

It was a contest from the start as the MHS team took on the Ririe Bulldogs at ‘The Dogpound’. From the start of the game, both teams came out ready to push the ball down the court. It looked like with every shot the Lady Dragons made, the Bulldogs would tie. In the first quarter, the two teams traded leads back and forth. Riri finished the quarter ahead 12-13.

But Malad came out in a bigger way in the second quarter, outscoring their opponents 19-7. With disciplined play from both teams and the officials making minimal calls to allow the girls to play on the court, the final three minutes of the half were filled with quick transitions up and down the court. Being in great shape, the Lady Dragons quickly wore down the Bulldogs and turned their opportunities into points on the scoreboard. Mikell Keetch ended the half with a perfectly timed buzzer-beater from the top of the key to make it 31-20.

Riri made the most of the halftime break to catch their wind and eventually cut the gap to 41-35 going into the third quarter. Keeley Miller hit a 3-pointer a minute into the fourth quarter off a quick pass from Oakley Hebden from the top of the key. The Bulldogs responded with two big drives from behind the arc on their next two possessions to make it 44-43.

Not ready to roll over and give up the game, the Lady Dragons stepped up their game, both offensively and defensively, stopping the Bulldog momentum. Hallie Horsley grabbed an offensive rebound on their next trip down the floor to come back for two more points. Izzy Haycock made a crucial steal when she dropped into the sideline defense just in time to intercept a bounce pass to the block. Bringing the ball up court, Haycock passed it to Hebden for the kick. Missed the rebound, Olivia Nelson went in for the rebound, covering the shot and the bonus foul shot after.

Haycock added two more points on the next possession with a jumper from the corner of the foul line to make it 51-45. Hebdon played a vital role in the final minute of the game as she repeatedly stepped up to the penalty line to hit five of six penalty kicks. Ririe made just three extra points as the clock wound down, giving the Lady Dragons a 56-48 win over the Bulldogs.

Throughout the night, Nelson grabbed an impressive 17 rebounds as well as 9 points, 2 steals and 4 blocks. Hebden led the way in points with 14 while adding 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal. Horsley also recorded 11 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks and 1 assist for the game.

Traveling to Ashton, Idaho the next day, Malad’s team tackled a completely different game as they played the North Fremont Huskies. In a much slower tempo and aggressive contest, the Lady Dragons played in what was probably their most physical game yet.

Closing down the inside game proved to be a real challenge despite Malad’s strong and quick defence. Over the course of four quarters, the two teams were back-to-back in scoring, with the game coming down to the final seconds of the game. With just 32 seconds left in the game, the Huskies got to the free throw line, sinking both to tie the game, 42-42.

Waiting until the last minute to make a shot, the Lady Dragons worked the ball from the outside to run out the clock, hoping to win at the buzzer or at least give them a second chance in overtime. With 5 seconds left, Hebden took a jump shot from the outside of the key, hit it at the rim and rebounded for a Huskies rebound. North Fremont called a timeout just as the final buzzer sounded. The refs called the timeout, putting 0.7 seconds on the clock. Malad found themselves in a difficult situation, not wanting to allow a shot, but also not wanting to play too aggressively and give up bonus shots at the foul line.

In what must have been a bit of Christmas magic, the Huskies drove the ball past half court and made a shot from the inside arc just before time expired, pulling away with the win, 42-44.

The last minute loss was disappointing for the MHS team, but they only let it affect them in a good way. Head coach Trevor Jones, “That sting of a loss hurts. We didn’t lose this game in the last shot, but rather in the small details throughout the game. We will use this loss to motivate us for the upcoming games. During the break we had some of our best practices and we hope to present even more consistent and intense play for our next matches.

The Lady Dragons have a busy week ahead of them as they play the Bear River Bears in Tremonton, Utah on Tuesday, January 2nd. Thursday, January 4th, they will host Bear Lake in their first game of the season, as well as Soda Springs on Saturday, January 6th.

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