The Pickens Dragonettes and Dragons had disappointing developments in their games against River Ridge High School on Friday evening, as the Nettes lost 49-48 in the final seconds and the Dragons struggled through a thirty-four point defeat.
The Dragonettes started off the night with its game with the Lady Knights, which would prove to be highly entertaining. Pickens found itself down 8-0 early on in the first quarter, leaving the home crowd at PHS concerned. However, the Dragonettes quickly woke up and surged, outscoring the Lady Knights 11-0 to close out the quarter with an 11-8 lead.
Pickens and River Ridge would swap the lead several times in the second quarter, and it looked like River Ridge would hold a one-point lead at the half until freshman Taylor Wigington fired a pass to Hannah Byers, who drilled a field goal from the post put Pickens back up with nineteen seconds left on the clock. Unfortunately, the Lady Knights had just enough time for another shot, which prove to be a three pointer with 0:04 showing on the clock to hand River Ridge a 24-22 lead at halftime.
Pickens continued to make big plays in the third quarter, especially junior Haley Kalson, who came into the quarter with no points and promptly posted seven in these allotted eight minutes. Both teams would post thirteen points in the third quarter, which meant that the Lady Knights would have a 37-35 lead going into the fourth.
The Dragonettes looked in control of this contest midway in the fourth quarter thanks to some big plays by Kalson and senior Sarah Smith, whose scoring plays gave Pickens a six-point lead with 3:30 to go. Naturally, the Lady Knights were determined to keep fighting, closing the gap to 46-45 with 2:32 to go. Pickens was able to add two more points thanks to free throw shooting by Wigington, but it would prove to be the last points the Nettes would score.
Given several chances to pad their lead with under a minute to go, the Dragonettes were unable to connect on a handful of free throws, leaving the door wide open for River Ridge. The Lady Knights would add two points with forty-five seconds left to make it a 48-47 contest and then hit a dagger of a shot with seven seconds to go, pushing them ahead 49-48.
Pickens had a chance to pull off a crazy comeback, but the Lady Knights eventually stole the ball away, sealing a 49-48 defeat for the Dragonettes.
Sarah Smith certainly had numerous great games at Pickens High School in her four years as a Dragonette, and her last one certainly ranks right up there with her best. When it was all said and done, Smith had twenty-nine points with eleven rebounds and one steal.
Haley Kalson was quiet in the first quarter before erupting and helping the Nettes stay competitive, eventually scoring twelve points. Kalson also had seven rebounds, four assists, one block, and two steals.
Seniors Olivia LeMieux and Hannah Byers did what they could to hinder River Ridge’s chances on Friday, as LeMieux had four steals and Byers had five rebounds with two blocks.
Following the end of the girls’ contest was the game between the varsity boys, which would be a rematch of a twenty-four point loss for the Dragons on Jan. 24. The first quarter for the Dragons looked eerily similar to the Dragonettes’ opening period earlier in the evening, as Pickens would start off slow and trail 10-4 early on. Despite battling foul troubles seemingly from the beginning of the game, Pickens closed the gap on River Ridge for a spell, until the Knights took control and ended the first with a 23-11 lead.
The second quarter would prove to crush Pickens’ chances in this one, as River Ridge simply ran roughshod over the home squad for the better part of eight minutes. The Knights would not be stopped, outscoring the Dragons 22-5 to head into the locker room with a 45-16 advantage.
Pickens came out and played much better to start the second half, thanks in part to cutting down on careless errors and working for shots. However, River Ridge would not take their foot off the pedal, and at the third quarter’s end they would hold a 60-28 lead.
Understanding the situation at hand, Dragons head coach Brad Steinhauer opted to play his reserves in the fourth quarter, allowing the younger players the opportunity to close out the game. River Ridge would go on to win the game 74-40.
Jacob Stephens made several plays for the Dragons on Friday, and his effort showed up in the stat book. Stephens led the team in scoring and rebounding with eleven points and six boards, respectively.
Wesley Sparks did his part in his final home game, scoring seven points against River Ridge. Sparks also had two rebounds and one block in the loss.
The Dragonettes and Dragons have matched each other step for step through the regular season, and at its end both hold 13-12 records.
The two squads will be playing in the 7-AAAA regional tournament at Cass High School on Tuesday, with the girls’ game starting at 7 p.m and the boys’ game following its conclusion.
Although opponents have not been officially set, sources have stated that the Dragonettes will face the Heritage Lady Colonels, while the Dragons will play the Dalton Catamounts. FYN will provide an update once the schedule is officially set.