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Lady Hornets get by Enterprise, 36-34

After halftime, the offense fell apart.

The Lady Hornets bogged down in Enterprise’s defensive mud, and the third quarter became a fight, ruled by ball thieves and body checks and elbows. Under the Lady Yellow Jackets’ pressure, the Loyd Star girls forgot where the basket was.

Christie Patterson found it again.

The junior forward hit back-to-back three-point shots in Loyd Star’s final two possessions of the third quarter, breaking the stalemate to shove her team out front 30-21 heading into the final eight minutes. They turned out to be the most important shots of the game — the Lady Jackets dominated the fourth quarter, but Patterson’s boost gave the home team just enough cushion to survive the comeback attempt 36-34.

“I felt like I was on tonight,” Patterson said. “When you know you’re open, you think in your head, ‘Just shoot it.’”

Patterson was certainly “on.” She connected on three of four three-point attempts for 75 percent, and was the only Lady Hornet to move the net from behind the arc.

Like the other Lady Hornets, the rest of her time on the court was spent in struggle.

The Lady Jackets were relentless, even tireless, from start to finish. The first quarter ended with Loyd Star on top 9-6, but Enterprise took the second quarter 11-10. The Lady Hornets halftime lead was tenuous at 19-17.

Both teams locked down each other’s offense in the third quarter, and Loyd Star was looking at a 5-4 lead in the period before Patterson’s double three-pointers gave them breathing room.

The Lady Jackets poured it on in the final quarter, taking it 13-6, but key plays in the final two minutes kept the Loyd Star girls in command.

Junior Sarah Britt hit a pair of free throws with 17 seconds remaining to give the Lady Hornets a 36-31 lead, but Enterprise senior Carlee Nations — who took over the fourth quarter — scored three points on an and-one to close it to 36-34. Nations drove on the basket in the game’s final five seconds but couldn’t get close enough for a clean look, and the game-tying shot bounced away at the buzzer.

“We just never gave up,” said Loyd Star senior Marley Poole. “We knew what looks they were going to give us, we knew we’d get one-on-one. We just kept on trying.”

Loyd Star coach Gene Britt said his team learned a few lessons after losing to the Lady Jackets 47-42 on Jan. 12.

“Carlee Nations had 20 against us last time, but tonight we did a good job on her and we did a good job against their man-to-man defense,” he said. “I thought we played a good ballgame, and this was a good district win for the girls.”

Nations had only one point before her fourth-quarter explosion. She finished the night with nine points and four fouls after throwing her body around like a tiny truck late in the game, knocking the wind out of Poole in the process.

“We needed the ball, and wherever it was I made a beeline for it. We had to have it,” she said. “We came back with more fight in the second half. We knew we could win this game, so we had some fire in us. But Loyd Star was just longer. They had more reach on us.”

Lady Jackets coach Shane Adams said his girls did everything they needed to win the game — except shoot.

“We shot 20 percent. That was the difference in the game,” he said. “We were in position to win, we just couldn’t buy a basket. Our girls played hard, but we struggled sometimes from the floor. It’s hard to beat a good team at home, and Loyd Star is a good team.”

Britt led the Lady Hornets with 16 points, while Patterson backed her up with 13. Junior Meagan Poole scored four points and led her team in rebounds with eight. Sophomore Carly Beth Wallace scored three. Marley Poole led the team in assists with five.

Nations led Enterprise with nine points, while twin sister Jana Nations scored eight. Senior Karlee Burgess also scored eight, while junior Britany Barnett scored five. Senior Eden Wards scored three, and junior Breyauna Johnson rounded out Lady Jackets scoring with one.

The win takes Loyd Star to 9-8 on the season and 3-3 in Region 7-2A. They travel to Salem Friday night.

The Lady Jackets fall to 9-6 on the season and 2-4 in Region 7-2A. They host West Lincoln Friday night.