MURPHYSBORO – The Massac County girls basketball team made a big statement on Tuesday night.
The Lady Patriots earned a key road win over Murphysboro, 62-59, and firmly claimed the driver’s seat toward an SIRR Ohio Division championship as well.
The contest was important for another reason – regional seeding. Barring some unforeseen circumstances, Massac County (12-4, 5-0) probably clinched the top seed in the Murphysboro Class 3A regional as well.
“We’re just learning to play without Jessie Douglas right now, and I think Gracyn McBride and Emily Hoard each had about a 30-second break in the game,” said Massac County coach Keith Shelton. “It was a tremendous effort by our kids. That was one of the better wins we’ve ever had. We thought whomever won this game would probably be the No. 1 seed in the regional. It was a huge win.”
Massac County trailed nearly the entire first half, but used a 10-1 run in the final minutes to grab a 28-26 edge at the intermission. The Lady Patriots never led by much in the second half, but never trailed either.
Hoard was special for Massac County. The senior scored 35 points, most of them from taking the ball to the hole. Hoard consistently drove past three or four Murphysboro defenders for easy baskets.
The Lady Red Devils didn’t seem to want to take a charge, and Hoard burned them all game long.
“Her sophomore year she shot between 35 and 40 percent from the three, but she realized she could get to the bucket whenever she wanted,” Shelton said of Hoard. “I think she understands that without Douglas she’s going to have to step up and do more things. I couldn’t be more proud of that kid tonight.”
Meanwhile, Murphysboro’s offense was in disarray most of the game. Mikayla Brasel sank two free throws to pull the Lady Red Devils within 51-50 with 3:23 left in the game.
But Murphysboro (21-3, 3-2) didn’t have quite enough to overtake a very good Massac County squad.
“We have a great first quarter, but we’re not getting much in the second and third quarters,” said Murphysboro coach Jon Marston. “We don’t penetrate, and we stand around flipping the ball around against the zone. On defense, nobody wanted to step up a take charge, and we wanted to reach and Hoard would just go right around us.”
McBride added 10 points for Massac County. Johnna Hines paced Murphysboro with 21 points, Jasmine Frazier added 15, and Brasel had 12.