BAKERSVILLE – If there is such of a thing as having a must-win in game No. 2 of the season, the McDowell Lady Titans were probably in that position.
After getting off to a disappointing start in Tuesday’s season opener, the Lady Titans responded well just 48 hours later, picking up a hard-earned 54-51 win on the road at Mitchell.
The win, McDowell’s first on the season, continues an interesting trend as the visiting team has now won the past three matchups in this series going back to last season. The Lady Titans prevailed in Ledger back on Dec. 8 of last year with a similarly hard-fought 60-54 victory.
Thursday night’s contest evolved in a fashion much like a year ago.
McDowell (1-1) jumped to an early advantage right out of the gate, leading 9-2 about four minutes in.
Forwards Makayla Brewer, Hayley Creasman (18 points, 5 rebounds) and Lily McKinney along with guard Dezi Willams (15 points, 2 steals, 2 assists) each scored in this initial flurry.
McKinney’s rebound and put-back at the 4:14 mark made it 9-2.
This start catapulted McDowell through the entire first half as the team enjoyed leads as high as 12 points on multiple occasions in the half, including a 27-15 margin going into the break.
The Lady Titans continued that process out of the locker room and had intentions of putting the game away early in the second half.
After Morgan Buchanan (10 points) missed a pair of three throws for Mitchell on the first possession out of the break, Brewer countered with a score on the other end. Williams then followed later by making the back end of two free throws at the 6:56 mark, and McKinney’s free throw at the 5:42 mark in the third increased the McDowell lead to 31-15.
The Lady Mountaineers despite being in such a hole mounted a huge rally the rest of the third and found new life going down the stretch.
Zoe Cloer made baskets in the paint on consecutive possessions over a period of about 25 seconds and that turned out to be the catalyst for a 21-5 run in the last five-plus minutes of the third, evaporating the McDowell lead totally and evening the score at 36-36 after three.
In the decisive fourth quarter, both squads combined for seven lead changes as the two teams were essentially trading baskets during that time.
It wasn’t until the final three minutes that McDowell took the lead for good.
It started with 2:51 left when Zoe Miller, on a baseline throw-in, found Creasman, who sank an open three from the wing putting the Lady Titans in front 47-45.
After a miss on Mitchell’s end, McDowell retrieved the rebound and then patiently executed their next possession as Willams drove to the basket and scored, making it 49-45 with 1:43 left.
That turned out to be the last made field goal by either team.
The Lady Mountaineers after a timeout committed a turnover and from there the Lady Titans solidly held onto the ball and made key free throws at the end.
Miller made a pair from the charity stripe with 47 seconds left and Creasman sank a pair with 20 seconds left, sealing the victory.
Brewer (11 rebounds) finished with nine points. McKinney (4 rebounds, 2 assists) and Candace Cooper (5 rebounds) had five points each and Miller finished with two points.
McDowell continues a three game road trip Tuesday at R-S Central.