(Photo by Josh Mills, Staff)
BENTON -- Valentine's Day is supposed to be all about love, but on the court Thursday evening there was definitely no display of affection between the Kelly Lady Hawks and the Delta Lady Bobcats. Kelly battled the visiting Delta squad for 32 minutes to capture the win by a final score of 48-40, the first victory over their rival since Feb. 18, 2005, which came in a 61-59 overtime match-up.
The Lady Hawks jumped on the board first as they quickly put up eight points, before their opponent scratched out a basket. Tara Johnson got in on the action early with a quick 3-pointer, as did Debra Hall with four points in the opening minutes of play. After one quarter, the home team was on top 12-6 over the Lady Bobcats.
Taylor Smith, Delta's point guard, poured in eight points in the second quarter, alongside teammate Sara Blattel's six points, to cut the lead to four at the break, 24-20 in favor of Kelly.
Kristen Powell had a big second quarter for the Lady Hawks, as she posted six points, finishing the first half with eight.
After the break, the Lady Bobcats continued to chip away at the lead, as five players got in on the scoring as Delta pulled within one, 33-32, going into the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, one of Kelly's defensive threats on the glass and on defense, Lana Whitworth fouled out with around three minutes to play in the third, heading to the bench to watch the remainder of the feud alongside her teammates.
Kayla Cissell and Londyn Backfisch quickly picked up where Whitworth left off, and in the final eight minutes, turned up the pressure on defense. The two swiped several loose balls and pushed the ball up floor to Debra Hall for the easy layup. However, the Lady Bobcats remained close, as they trailed by just three with 1:25 left to play.
As the remaining time ticked away, Delta couldn't find an answer on the offensive end of the floor. The visiting crowd grew restless, as Backfisch stepped to the line and calmly drained four free throws, extending the Lady Hawks' lead.
After the Lady Bobcats returned the ball back to Kelly, Cissell headed to the charity stripe to seal the victory for the Lady Hawks, 48-40.
"It was a very good game," said Kelly head coach Rod McQuerter. "Both teams played hard. But, I liked our girls' attitudes."
"We had a few days off, and the girls came in with the same intensity," he added. "I'm very proud of their attitude. This late in the season, I look for one thing, attitude. This is a great game in preparation for districts."
Senior guard Sarah Ruff, sidelined with an ACL injury said she was proud of her teammates for battling so hard against their rival.
"It was pretty great," said Ruff of the victory. "It's great to see Delta go down, since they've beaten us twice this season."
Ruff added that she would've loved to have been on the floor with her squad as they defeated the Lady Bobcats.
Of the win, Cissell reiterated the motto that McQuerter preaches to his team.
"We had a positive attitude--we played hard and we played as a team," she said.
Delta was led in scoring by Smith, who finished with 15 points and three rebounds. Menz and Blattel finished with eight points apiece in the loss.
Kelly was led by Hall, who totaled 14 points and nine rebounds. Backfisch scored 10 points, all in the second half, while Cissell finished with nine points and six rebounds. Powell chipped in with eight points, while Johnson added seven, on two 3-pointers and a free throw.
The Lady Hawks, now 14-6 on the season, will remain at home for a make-
up game against the Scott Central Bravettes, which is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m.