Pickens Academy came flying out of the gate.

The Lady Pirates opened up Monday night’s contest with Russell Christian Academy on a 9-0 run and had the game sealed by halftime on their way to a 54-28 victory at Meridian Community College.

“It was tough, but the thing is though, I told them what to expect,” Lady Warriors head coach Will Knight said. “I told them it was going to be a tough game, and this time they just got the better of us. We know what to do now, we know what they bring to the table, so next time we play them, we’ll know exactly how to beat them.”

After Pickens’ opening run, Wynecia Willis put RCA on the board with a layup for two of her team’s six points in the first quarter. Jessi Latham’s basket and ensuing free throw with 0.3 seconds left put the Lady Pirates ahead 21-6 and gave her seven points after the first frame.

Latham’s first points in the second quarter, after Audrey Fondren scored two buckets, capped off an 11-0 Pickens run to go up by 26. Brenley Lippert, Willis and Ann Lauren Stuckey each scored as the Lady Pirates kept putting up points and led 42-14 at halftime.

With a running clock in the second half, Willis hit a baseline jumper before Pickens’ subs entered the game with 2:41 left in the third quarter up 46-17. After a Lady Warriors’ missed shot, Lippert grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to make it 48-20 heading into the fourth quarter.

Willis scored all eight of RCA’s points in the final quarter, scoring six off fast breaks and going 2-for-2 at the free line. Willis ended the night with a game-high 16 points and had three steals in the second half.

“One thing that I love about our team is that we try to find opportunities when we can, and we execute them properly,” Knight said. “We don’t get all of them, but we definitely took all the advantages and chances that we could, and with Wynecia, that was definitely one of the times we were able to. I’m hoping I can incorporate that with the rest of my team.”

The Lady Warriors outscored the Lady Pirates 14-12 in the second half. Lippert had four points and four rebounds, and Stuckey added four points and five boards.

Latham led Pickens with 13 points, all in the first half, and eight rebounds. Fondren finished with 10 points, and Carleigh Cameron added four points, five assists and four steals. 

“The most important thing for me is what I call court awareness,” Knight said moving forward. “It’s just seeing the court, It’s knowing where everyone is supposed to be, and knowing where the other team is, and then you’re able to see the court better and you’re able to understand what you need to do on the court in order to then win the ball game.”

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