HICKORY – It may not have been a particularly high-scoring game, but the Hickory Lady Red Tornadoes had the pace of Wednesday’s Northwestern 3A/4A Conference opener at exactly where they wanted it.
A total of four Hickory players scored in double figures and they pulled away from the McDowell Lady Titans in the second half, winning 61-49 at David Craft Gymnasium.
McDowell (5-5 overall, 0-1 NWC) came out in the early going and, thanks to some hot shooting and good work on the glass, was trying to earn its second win at Hickory in as many years. The Lady Titans opened the first four minutes of play with a 9-1 run and for most of the first half was able to hold a workable margin.
The contest started with a Makenna Parkins layup off the glass less than 30 seconds in. Guard Zoe Miller than added a transition 3 after Hickory missed on their first possession. Then, a pair of Makaylah Chandler baskets bookending a made Hickory free throw put McDowell in the driver’s seat early on.
However, the Lady Red Tornadoes began to make some shots later on in the first half and went to a full-court trap press to speed up the game and the results paid off late in the first half.
Down 20-12 with 5:30 left, Hickory (6-2, 1-0) finished the first half with a 14-5 run. An Ines Knox (13 points) score in the paint off a Finley Lefevers (10 points) assist in the final 30 seconds of the half gave the home team its first lead of the night and they only relinquished it one more time the entire night.
McDowell re-took the lead about 90 seconds out of the break almost in identical fashion to the start of the game. Parkins scored and then Dezi Wiliams followed with a layup on the next possession to make it a 29-26 McDowell lead.
Hickory then countered with a decisive 15-3 run the rest of the third quarter, a timeframe in which the Lady Titans could muster only one more field goal in the frame.
Mason Paradine’s (11 points) jumper with 5:48 left in the third helped Hickory regain the lead for good at 30-29. The run ultimately gave them a nine-point lead after the third and a game-high margin of 16 points midway through the fourth to put the game away.
Hickory, with its full-court tempo, really settled in and McDowell, after some good shooting, really struggled, making a total of five field goals in the second and third quarters combined. The pace of play also showed up in the turnover category as the Lady Titans turned it over 21 times.
Mikayla Hill was the fourth Lady Red Tornado in double figures with 10 points.
Chandler (7 rebounds, 5 assists) led the team with 17 points in her first start of the season replacing Candace Cooper who is recovering from a sprained ankle suffered last week. Williams (8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal) finished with 12 points and Parkins had 10 points. Miller, Naliyah Boyce and Daisy Rice scored three points apiece and Silese Carson had two points.
McDowell returns to Titan Gymnasium tonight (Friday) hosting St. Stephens.