Blues Hold Off Cougars

Two Key Games Await PM Girls To Close Regular Season

The Parry McCluer High School girls basketball team grabbed an enormous Pioneer District road win last week, downing Covington 51-43 on Tuesday.

Maddie Henson scored 13 points, while Katie Claytor and Grayce Henson each chipped in 12 points as the Fighting Blues improved to 7-2 in district play and 7-9 overall. Elaishja Helton and Kim Via led the Cougars with nine points apiece.

Claytor buried a pair of key 3-pointers late in the game, and PM was able to hold off Covington down the stretch. That type of hard-fought victory may show the progress that the Blues’ young roster has made since early in the season.

Tenth-year PM head coach Adam Gilbert compared Tuesday’s game to his team’s Dec. 19 loss at Rockbridge County. The first one was a back-and-forth affair, but the Blues’ struggles to execute in the second half ultimately cost them in a 46-40 defeat.

“This had a very similar feel to the Rockbridge game in late December,” Gilbert said. “Against Covington, we handled their full-court pressure, and we executed much better in the late-game situations. We have definitely grown as individual players and as a team.”

The Blues jumped out to a 6-0 advantage, only to see the Cougars close the margin to 12-10 by the end of the first quarter. Covington took its first lead (15-14) early in the second period, and the teams would head into halftime tied at 25-25.

Maddie Henson and Sydney Taylor sank three-point baskets as PM regained the advantage in the third quarter. Leading by seven in the fourth, the Blues went into a delay with the Cougars sitting back in a zone, and PM then converted at the foul line to ice the win.

In addition to knocking down important shots on the offensive end, the Blues put together a solid defensive effort. In particular, PM limited Ariel Barber, Covington’s talented post player, to just seven points.

“The kids hit some big shots with the game on the line,” Gilbert said. “We also played pretty well on the defensive end of the floor.”

Amiah Hunter added seven points for the Cougars, and Stacy Tacy finished with six markers. Taylor and Anna Claytor notched six points apiece for PM. Covington ended the week at 10-8 overall and 7-2 in the district, tied with PM.

The Blues will play host to two massive Pioneer games this week, as Covington visits tonight and first-place Eastern Montgomery comes calling in the regular-season finale on Friday. Junior varsity action will begin at 5:30 p.m. on both nights. The games against EM were rescheduled from last Thursday because flu closed Buena Vista schools on Thursday and Friday.

Thanks to last Tuesday’s victory, PM should be ready for those challenges.

“This should give the kids some confidence going forward,” Gilbert said. “They can play with anyone in the district. They just have to come out every night ready to play at a high level on both ends of the floor.”

The Pioneer District tournament is scheduled to start on Monday. For the district tournament schedule and updates, visit www.thenews-gazette.com.

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