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Lady Hornets survive Lady Cobras’ snakebite

Loyd Star’s Lady Hornets attacked the paint to break a first-half stalemate against the Lady Cobras Tuesday night, pulling ahead just enough to win a hard-fought road game at Wesson 46-36.

With the Lady Cobras leading 18-16 at the half and giving Loyd Star problems in transition, the Lady Hornets started the third quarter by slowing the game and feeding the ball inside to sophomore Taylor Smith, who scored three layups against one-one-one coverage in the lane to knock Wesson off its game. Smith’s steady scores, fed to her on assists from junior Meagan Poole, kept Wesson at bay long enough for the Lady Hornets to turn in a 12-6 fourth quarter and pull away in the game’s final minutes.

“It was Meagan’s assists. I have to give it all to her,” Smith said. “At halftime, me and Meagan had talked about me posting up, and she’s really good with her passing.”

Smith led Loyd Star in scoring with 14 points, eight of which came early in the third quarter off Poole’s team-high six assists. Included in her point total were four of six free throw attempts on fouls collected as part of the Poole-Smith connection. She also collected seven rebounds and a pair of her own assists.

Smith, who normally rotates into the game off the bench, got the start Tuesday night in place of senior guard Marley Poole, who was absent with illness. She was able to take advantage of matchups in her favor while the Lady Cobras focused on Loyd Star junior Sarah Britt, the tallest girl on the court and the team’s usual suspect in the paint.

If the Lady Cobras could have contained the inside game, they might have had a chance to pull of the upset. The undersized she-snakes played a complete game and had Loyd Star on the ropes early.

Wesson’s plan depended on the speed of sophomore Shelbi Maxwell, always a hard fighter despite usually being the smallest player on the wood. She nailed a three-pointer to put the first points on the board and followed up with a charging layup to get the Lady Cobras off and running, forcing Loyd Star to play catch-up before coming back to win the opening quarter 13-12.

Wesson kept its jets on and put the pressure on the Lady Hornets early in the second quarter, leading Loyd Star coach Gene Britt to halt his offense entirely and slow the game to a stop — the girls in red basically wasted most of the second quarter passing the ball around the top of the arc and letting the clock run, resulting in an action-free second quarter won 6-3 by Wesson.

“We got a little tired and needed to rest up and change the pace of the game. Wesson was hot, so we had to get reorganized and get a little wind back in us,” Britt said.

Britt’s plan worked. After several minutes of Poole-to-Smith in the early third, Wesson’s fastball plan was in tatters and Loyd Star was able to use its size and depth to control the second half. The Lady Hornets took the third quarter 18-12 and the fourth 12-6, with the Lady Cobras in trouble and sending Loyd Star shooters to the free throw line with the clock expiring.

“We made a few turnovers and we shot a few times when we didn’t need to shoot, but overall we played a pretty good game,” Britt said.

Sarah Britt was second in scoring behind Smith with 13 points, and her eight rebounds tied for the team lead with junior Christie Patterson. Patterson had nine points on the night, including a three-ball that was a dagger during one of Wesson’s comeback attempts.

“I have really good teammates who can get me the ball, and basically when I’m open I take the shot,” Patterson said.

Poole scored seven points, while sophomore Malori Cade scored three.

For Wesson, Maxwell basically was the Lady Cobras’ offense, scoring 23 points that included nine in Wesson’s fast first quarter, eight in the final quarter and four in the slow second. But the Lady Hornets took her out of the game in the third quarter, where she scored only one bucket.

“We came out strong in the first half, but in the end we just quit,” Maxwell said. “When Loyd Star started passing in the second, it let us catch our breath, but we don’t like to slow it down. We like to keep it going.”

Junior Jerinesha Edwards followed Maxwell with six points, while sophomore Latavia Jackson had three. Juniors Alissa Coone and Destiny Vaughn scored two points each.

The victory improves the Lady Hornets to 6-4 on the season, while the Lady Cobras keep falling and now stand at 1-8. Loyd Star hosts Enterprise tonight, while Wesson travels to face West Lincoln Friday night.