GRC girls fall to Mason, 54-51

Published 12:46 am Thursday, January 26, 2017

Every time the George Rogers Clark High School girls basketball team seemed poised to take control of its meeting with Mason County Wednesday night in Winchester, the Royals found an answer — or a lucky bounce.

In a tight contest most of the way, the senior-laden Royals escaped GRC with a 54-51 win.

“Mason County is a good basketball team. We’re a good basketball team,” GRC coach Robbie Graham said. “We haven’t reached our ceiling yet. Don’t be surprised if we see them again.”

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As the first quarter drew to a close, the Cardinals (17-3) took the lead on a Hayley Harrison 3-pointer with seconds left. But AJ Reed’s halfcourt heave at the buzzer got the Royals (15-4) the lead back at 15-13.

The second quarter ended in a similar fashion, when Kylee Murray sunk a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 29-26 with seconds remaining, but Maddie Boone connected on a contested 3-pointer to give Mason a 32-26 advantage at halftime.

The Royals had come into the contest shooting a little better than 30 percent from 3-point range. They finished the first half Wednesday five-of-six.

After the break, the game belonged to the Cardinals, who outscored the Royals, 15-8, taking a 41-40 lead into the final period.

“Our defense picked up (in the third quarter),” Graham said. “We were working hard.”

The teams traded baskets, but Sha’Maya Behanan’s putback to give the Cards a 43-42 advantage, was the last lead the team had in the game.

Mason kept the lead at least one point the rest of the way.

Coming into the game shooting 68 percent from the charity stripe, the Royals were 13-of-15 on free throws against the Cardinals — who only took six free throws but made all of them.

Despite the Royals’ hot night shooting and their experienced roster, Graham said the difference was their ability to capitalize on GRC’s miscues.

“I wish we had handled the ball better,” he said. “They had 20 points off turnovers. We didn’t value the ball. We made careless mistakes.”

Harrison finished with 13 to lead GRC. Behanan put in 12. Maleaha Bell tossed in eight points. Elizabeth Hardiman added six points and pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.

Mason got 18 points from Whitney O’Mara to lead all scorers. Briana McNutt added 10.

“I’m proud of our effort,” Graham said. “We played hard. We completed every play. I like our team. We’ll keep getting better.”