(Photos by Josh Mills, Staff)
CHAFFEE -- The competition is heating up as the 32nd Annual Chaffee Lady Devils Invitational continues at Chaffee High School. Wednesday evening, the Kelly Lady Hawks inserted themselves in the championship game after hanging on to a small lead to defeat the Scott City Lady Rams 53-42.
Kelly led 11-3 after the first, but Scott City managed 15 points in the second quarter to cut the lead to 25-18 at the break.
Kelly head coach Rod McQuerter showed his appreciation to his squad following the well-fought victory.
"I want to say that I'm very proud of our girls," said McQuerter. "Any time you have a rivalry game, such as the Scott City game, it's going to be a good game."
"I'm proud of our girls because they came out, they had a positive attitude, they played hard and they played as a team."
For the Lady Hawks, a solid performance by senior Debra Hall proved to be the difference in the contest.
Hall finished with a game-high 32 points but kept the Lady Rams silent on the glass as she pulled down rebound after rebound late in the contest.
The win sets up the third consecutive championship appearance for Kelly in the Chaffee tournament, where they could potentially see the Delta Lady Bobcats for the third straight year if the Lady Bobcats can overcome the East Prairie Lady Eagles tonight.
"I'm proud of our girls because they get to play in the championship game," McQuerter said. "There's no better feeling than saying that you're getting to play in the championship game. They came out focused and they were ready to play. Whether we win by one, or win by five or 10, it doesn't matter. The point is that the girls have a good time, and I guarantee you that our girls had a good time today."
Behind Hall in scoring for Kelly was Londyn Backfisch with nine points and Tara Johnson with seven. Johnson also hit two 3-pointers.
Scott City head coach Kerry Thompson was proud of his squad for battling the No. 1 seed for four quarters.
"It was a good basketball game," said Thompson. "To come in and play a program like Kelly, I wanted the girls to look at that as an opportunity. One, to beat them, and two, to gain experience from playing a quality team. I told the girls in the locker room that i would've paid to watch that game."
"It wasn't always well-played, but it was a battle," he added. "Both teams wanted it and both teams battled. If we make a few shots here (in the fourth quarter) and cut that deficit down a little bit more, who knows what can happen. It was good for us. I think we gained some confidence out of it and we look forward to whoever we play on Saturday for third place."
The third place game Thompson spoke of will consist of the Lady Rams against the loser of the East Prairie/Delta game that takes place tonight at 7:30 p.m. The third place game will take place Saturday at 3 p.m.
Thompson will look for another big game out of Katie Hogan, who led Scott City (2-3) Wednesday evening with 10 points, including one 3-pointer.
Holli Shemonia and Ashley Brant each finished with nine points apiece while Stephanie Essner chipped in with eight.
Kelly (2-0) will play the winner of the East Prairie/Delta game on Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. in the title game.