By Tony Tsoukalas / email@example.com
The Meridian Star
The Lamar girls basketball team became the first team in school history to reach 20 wins, beating Clarkdale on the road 61-21 Tuesday night.
“We have talked about it quite a bit, and this is step one of the things we wanted to do this season,” Lamar head Russell Cruise coach said. “We wanted to become the first 20-win team at Lamar, and that is 20 tonight. We still have other goals, but this has said a lot of how far we have come. We have good leadership on this team.”
The Raiders started the game on an 11-0 run, with senior guard Olivia Mabry leading the charge. Mabry scored 16 points in the first quarter, including 4/6 shooting from beyond the arch, as the Raiders ended the quarter up 22-5. Mabry ended the game with 20 points and seven assist for the Raiders.
“When you have someone who can run the show like Olivia can, it really opens things up,” Cruise said. “They are a joy to coach, and I wouldn't trade this team for anyone.”
The Raiders ran into trouble in the second quarter, coming out cold and not scoring until the 3:33 mark in the quarter. The Raiders only scored six points in the quarter. However, the Bulldogs were unable to to capitalize, only scoring nine points, as the teams headed into the half with the score 28-14.
“We have got to quit having lulls like we did in the second quarter,” Cruise sad. “It's especially crucial against good teams.”
The Raiders would rebound in the second half, as Mabry and sophomore Allie Shirley would carry Lamar to victory. Shirley finished the night with 18 points.
“Allie Shirley had a big night,” Mabry said. “So did Natalie (Williams) in the post. We just all played well tonight and had a good game.”
The Raiders improve to 20-4 on the season with the win. While Cruise is happy with his team's success so far, he said he will continue to push the Raiders to achieve their full potential and bring a state title to Lamar.
“I looked in the trophy case in Lamar and I haven't seen any blue first-place trophies,” Cruise said. “Our next goal is to win the conference. I think we have as good a shot as anybody.”
Clarkdale get much needed win against Lamar.
It was clear coach Robert Holladay and the Clarkdale Bulldogs needed a win Tuesday night. The Bulldogs played like a team determined to win, overcoming several late charges while taking down Lamar 62-52.
“This is a big win for these guys, because we have been on a bit of a skid lately,” Holladay said. “I think this win will build confidence for us. Hats off to the team, because they were able to play hard for four quarters, and I'm just proud of them.”
The Bulldogs were led on the night by Derias Croft, Henry Scott and Daniel Cameron, who scored a combined 49 points for Clarkdale on the night.
“When we are all clicking, it's unreal,” Croft said. “The crowd gets into it, and it is just intense.”
The Bulldogs certainly had their share of close moments. After building a double-digit lead in the second half, Lamar battled back to cut the lead to 53-50 with three minutes left in the fourth quarter.
However, Cameron would end the threat on the Bulldogs next possession , as he hit a crucial three-pointer to extend the lead to 56-50 and spark a 7-0 run to sink the Raiders.
The win moves Clarkdale to 2-11 on the season, but more importantly it provides the Bulldogs with a chance to build into the remainder of the season.
“We can most definitely build off of it,” Croft said. “We just got to continue to play hard and keep what we got going here. We just got to keep it going and be repetitious.”