LEDGER – The Mitchell High School girls’ basketball seems to heat up as the weather gets colder.
The No. 2-ranked Mountaineers, winners of seven straight, improved to 10-1 overall this past week with a convincing win at Draughn and a pair of victories in the North Henderson Christmas Tournament. Mitchell downed previously unbeaten East Henderson 41-34 in its first game of the tournament and captured the title with a 34-33 win over Madison on a buzzer-beating bucket from senior Morgan Buchanan.
The Mountaineers trailed Madison 30-28 in the game’s final minutes and took the lead on a 3-pointer from senior Emma Duncan. With less than 30 seconds to go, Madison surged back ahead and led 33-32 before Buchanan grabbed the rebound on a miss by Duncan and quickly shot it in as time expired to lift the team to a dramatic win.
Buchanan recorded another double-double against Madison, leading all scorers with 12 points to complement a game-high 10 rebounds after an 11-point, 10-rebound performance against East Henderson.
Mountaineers head coach Zack McCartha said his team is simply finding different ways to win each night.
“Our defense has really improved,” he said. “When you’re finding ways to win is when you know you have a chance to be a good team.”
After starting the season 3-0, Mitchell suffered its first and only loss this season 54-51 at home Nov. 30 against McDowell. Since then, the team has won seven straight, including five double-digit wins and has held its opponents to 48 or fewer points in each of those contests after allowing a season-high 54 points in the loss.
“We’ve come a really long way,” McCartha said. “We’re playing really tough.”
McCartha guided the Mountaineers to a 14-12 finish last season, snapping a streak of six consecutive sub-.500 seasons.
In Mitchell’s 68-48 win Dec. 22 at Draughn, Buchanan and Duncan each had 18 points. Buchanan also had 15 rebounds in the game.
Mitchell opens Western Highlands Conference play this week with back-to-back home games against No. 8-ranked Avery County and Mountain Heritage.
MaxPreps 1A Basketball rankings
RANK SCHOOL RECORD
1 Mount Airy 7-1
2 Mitchell 10-1
3 Murphy 9-1
4 East Wilkes 10-2
5 Cape Hatteras 10-0
6 Pamlico Co. 11-1
7 Riverside 8-2
8 Avery Co. 8-3
9 Northampton 7-2
10 Plymouth 6-2