Lady Mountaineers extend winning streak to 9 games
LEDGER – The No. 1-ranked Mitchell Lady Mountaineers improved to 11-1 Wednesday, Jan. 3, with a 46-42 win over the No. 8-ranked Avery Co. Lady Vikings.
Mitchell senior center/power forward Morgan Buchanan continued her scoring and rebounding tear in the battle of top-10 teams from neighboring counties. She led the Lady Mountaineers with 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in an all-around solid team performance by second-year head coach Zack McCartha’s squad.
“It was a good win for us,” McCartha said. “I don’t know if any of these girls had ever beaten Avery. It was a good win for this team and for our program.”
Sophomore point guard Hannah McMahan added 8 points for the Lady Mountaineers in the win and freshman forward Paige
Johnson recorded 9 rebounds.
The Lady Mountaineers erased a 7-point Avery County lead with 3:15 to go in the first quarter on a 3-pointer by Marley Cloer and clung to a slim 17-16 lead at the end of the period.
The first half ended with the game knotted 25-25. Mitchell defense clamped down in the third quarter, holding Avery to two points and extended its lead to 34-27 heading into the final eight minutes of the game.
The Lady Vikings cut Mitchell’s lead to three at 38-35 with 4:54 to go in the game with a 3-pointer by junior point guard Hannah McIntosh, who had a game-high 16 points in the loss.
Johnson hit a pair of free-throws with 3:30 remaining to put Mitchell up by five at 40-35.
“We hit important free throws late and we found a way to win,” McCartha said. “That’s the sign of a good team.”
A layup by Avery County junior guard/forward Heaven Nelson put the Lady Vikings down 42-40 with 1:35 left in the game. Mitchell was whistled for a three-second violation on the ensuing possession, turning the ball over to Avery County. The Lady Vikings could not capitalize, however, and after missing a potential game-tying layup, a jump ball gave possession back to Mitchell with less than a minute remaining.
Phillips hit 1-of-2 free-throws to put the Lady Mountaineers up 43-40 before a McIntosh layup made the score 43-42 with 34 ticks left on the clock.
Avery County began late-game fouling and Mitchell hit 3-of-6 foul shots down the stretch to secure the win.
No. 1 Mitchell 47, Asheville 44
The Lady Mountaineers traveled to Asheville High School Saturday, Jan. 6, and came away with a hard-fought 47-44 win.
Mitchell (12-1, 1-0 WHC) were again led by Buchanan, who led the team with 20 points and 15 rebounds. She also had five blocks in the game.
Senior point guard Eden Phillips scored nine points in the win.
“It was a tough win in a tough ballgame in a tough place to play,” McCartha said. “I’m really happy with how we have been playing, especially on defense. After we beat McDowell I remember saying on the bus ride home that I don’t know how good we are, but I know we are good on defense. Our players used to just stand around and watch Morgan rebound, but not anymore.”
The Lady Mountaineers hosts Draughn Wednesday, Jan. 10, before going to Polk Friday, Jan. 12, and return home for a makeup game Monday, Jan. 15, against Mountain Heritage.