By Tony Burns
JUNCTION CITY - Junction City used a 17-2 run in the second half and held on to beat Spring Hill 59-56 Friday night. The victory gave the Lady Dragons the 2A-8 regular-season championship.
Junction City will carry the No. 1 seed into the district tournament and plays Thursday at 4 p.m. in Fordyce.
“I’m just happy for these young ladies. They worked hard all year. I kept telling them, good things happen to those who work hard. Now, we see the results of it,” said Junction City coach Henry Harrell. “We’re proud of that. That’s just one step for us, though. Now, we want to go over to Fordyce and try to win the district tournament and be a one seed going into regional. The regional will be held here at Junction. We look forward to that.”
The Lady Dragons improved to 15-3 overall and 15-1 in conference with their 15th consecutive victory. The Lady Bears dropped to 18-4-1, 14-2. Both league losses for Spring Hill were against Junction City.
“A lot of people thought it might’ve been a fluke when we beat ‘em over there in Spring Hill,” said Harrell. “But, my girls came out tonight, we didn’t start like we wanted to but in the third quarter, we talked about winning the third quarter. Third quarter was big for us. We held on at the end. We made free throws down the stretch.”
Spring Hill led 25-22 at the half and was up 36-34 with 1:40 left in the third.
Senior Taykeetria Rogers drained a 3-pointer for the Lady Dragons and then scored on a lay-up. Jada Archie banked in a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Junction City a 42-36 lead.
Bryanna Raye opened the fourth with a free throw and a steal and lay-up. Jada Quillin hit a jumper for Spring Hill but Raye hit two at the line, popped a jumper and then picked up another steal and bucket for a 50-38 lead with 5:06 left to play.
The Lady Bears fought back, of course. Kaylee Brooks ignited a 10-1 spurt with a rebound and putback. A 3-pointer by Marta Gomez cut the deficit to 51-48 with 1:38 remaining.
But, the Lady Dragons took care of business at the free throw line. Rogers hit four consecutive free throws and Raye was 2-for-2 and the Lady Bears never got closer than three points.
“I thought Rogers was big for us. Bryanna Raye gave us a big spark in the fourth quarter. She made a lot of free throws along with Rogers,” said Harrell. “In the first half, I thought Archie was kind of hesitant in the first quarter. But, in the second quarter, I thought she picked her game up a little bit.
“Overall, I’m proud of the effort of the young ladies and the way they played tonight. It feels good to win a conference championship.
Rogers led Junction City with 21 points, seven rebounds and three steals. She was 8-of-13 at the line. Raye scored 17 with five steals. Archie added 15 points and seven boards.
Gomez led Spring Hill with 16 while Katie Rivera and Brooklyn Reed contributed 11 and 10, respectively.