PM Girls Drop Two

PM SOPHOMORE forward Grayce Henson looks to the basket as Covington’s Amiah Hunter guards her. Henson led the Blues with 12 points. (Ronnie Coffey photo)

PM SOPHOMORE forward Grayce Henson looks to the basket as Covington’s Amiah Hunter guards her. Henson led the Blues with 12 points. (Ronnie Coffey photo)

FIGHTING BLUE freshman guard Anna Claytor holds onto the ball while Covington’s Amiah Hunter pressures her. Claytor scored 11 points. (Ronnie Coffey photo)

FIGHTING BLUE freshman guard Anna Claytor holds onto the ball while Covington’s Amiah Hunter pressures her. Claytor scored 11 points. (Ronnie Coffey photo)

PM SOPHOMORE guard Maddie Henson dribbles down the court as a Covington player defends her. (Ronnie Coffey photo)

PM SOPHOMORE guard Maddie Henson dribbles down the court as a Covington player defends her. (Ronnie Coffey photo)

Shorthanded Blues Fall To Covington, EastMont

Eastern Montgomery clinched the Pioneer District regular-season girls basketball title Friday with a 48-39 victory over Parry McCluer High School in Buena Vista. Haley Howard totaled 14 points and eight rebounds

Haley Howard totaled 14 points and eight rebounds to pace a balanced attack for the Mustangs (15-7 overall, 11-1 district). Maddie Bruce notched 13 points and seven rebounds for EM, while Elli Underwood also finished with 13 points.

Anna Claytor led the Fighting Blues (8-11, 8-4) with 13 points and eight rebounds. Amber Grow scored 12 points for PM, and Maddie Henson totaled eight points, five rebounds and four assists.

Playing their second straight game without leading scorer Katie Claytor due to a sprained ankle, the Blues battled throughout. But hampered by three sluggish quarters on the offensive end – and plagued by 22 turnovers on the night – they came up short against the newly minted district champions.

“I thought we played hard,” PM head coach Adam Gilbert said. “We didn’t play smart at times; we’re not going to do that all the time. The kids’ effort – I can’t say enough about the six that went out there and gutted it out for four quarters.”

The Blues started the game on the right foot, taking an 8-3 lead midway through the first quarter, but EM fought back to knot things up at 8-8. A competitive second quarter saw the teams head into halftime with the Mustangs up 18-16.

Leading 20-19 early in the second half, EM closed the third quarter on a 9-2 run to stretch the margin to 29-22. The PM offense then came to life in the final eight minutes, with Grow and Anna Claytor both knocking down jump shots to keep the Blues in the game.

“For whatever reason, we just got into the flow of the game, into a little bit of rhythm,” Gilbert said. “We knew we were down and we had to get quick buckets. We came down and hit the open man and hit the shot.”

However, PM couldn’t get enough stops to get over the hump. Bruce was the key player down the stretch for the Mustangs, scoring nine of her points in the fourth period. Grow’s fourth 3-pointer of the night trimmed the deficit to 42-39 with 1:01 to play, but that was as close as the Blues would get.

Grayce Henson chipped in four points and five rebounds for PM, while Sydney Taylor notched four boards and three assists. Lilly Underwood tallied four markers for EM.

CHS 41, PM 31

The Blues suffered a 41-31 home loss to district rival Covington last Wednesday in Buena Vista. With the loss, the Fighting Blues and Cougars split the sea

With the loss, the Fighting Blues and Cougars split the season series. PM won the earlier matchup this season 51-43 at Covington on Feb. 4. Covington would end the regular season with a 15-8 overall record, including 10-2 in the district, to earn the No. 2 seed.

“We made a lot of big shots at their place last time,” Gilbert said. “Those kinds of shots just weren’t falling for us this time.”

PM did get off to a good start, though. Grayce Henson, who led the Blues with 12 points, knocked down two shots in the first quarter and PM led 6-5 after one.

Shots started falling for Covington in the second quarter while turnovers hurt the Blues. Elaishja Helton knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers and the Cougars took a 16-13 lead into halftime.

“Moving forward, we’ve got to do a better job taking care of the ball,” Gilbert said. “I thought we got more and more careless as the game went on.”

The Cougars relied on hot shooting in the third quarter. A banked 3-pointer from Kimberly Via extended the Covington lead to 21-13.

PM wouldn’t go quietly, though. Anna Claytor, who finished the game with 11 points, helped force several turnovers and Sydney Taylor knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game at 22.

“That was huge for us,” Gilbert said. “It was an uphill battle most of the night, but I was proud of the way we fought back and didn’t quit.”

Without Katie Claytor, the Blues had only six active players for the game.

“Eventually, we started to run out of gas,” Gilbert said. “It’s tough when you’re that short-handed, but we’ve got to make do with the six we have.”

Gilbert said he is holding out hope that Claytor will return this season, but he doesn’t expect to have her back for district tournament action this week.

The Blues’ fatigue showed in the fourth period and Covington pulled away. Cristi Persinger, who led the Cougars with 11 points, stole the ball and made a layup to extend the Covington lead to 10 points with just over three minutes remaining. Amiah Hunter made five key free throws down the stretch as Covington coasted to victory.

PM 54, HC 17

PM cruised to a 54-17 victory over Highland County in Monterey on Monday of last week.

Anna Claytor posted a game-high 21 points and Katie Claytor notched 10 markers for the Blues. Grayce Henson finished with eight points for PM, and Maddie Henson added six points. Alexis Wilfong led the Rams with eight points.

The Blues jumped on Highland early, leading 17-2 after the opening quarter and extending their advantage to 34-2 by halftime. PM held the Rams to just two field goals across the opening three periods.

PM enters this week’s Pioneer District tournament as the No. 3 seed. The Blues were slated to play host to sixth-seeded Craig County in the quarterfinals on Monday evening, with the semifinals set for tonight.

“It’s a blank slate and now it’s tournament time … Anything can happen,” Gilbert said.

For tournament updates, visit www.thenews-gazette.com.

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