The Pickens High School basketball teams left the court on Saturday, January 12 with very different emotions on their performances against Sonoraville, as the Dragonettes fought hard but ultimately fell to a talented Lady Phoenix squad and the Dragons rallied in the fourth quarter to force an overtime session, which resulted in a thrilling victory.
The first game of the evening pitted the Dragonettes against a dangerous Lady Phoenix, a team that came into the game with an impressive 15-1 overall record on the season. Sonoraville got the upperhand on Pickens in the opening quarter, starting the game with a quick 8-2 run that led to the Lady Phoenix holding onto a 14-8 lead going into the second period.
A combination of great defense by Sonoraville and sloppy play by Pickens led to the Lady Phoenix extending their advantage of the Dragonettes in the second quarter, outscoring the home team 15-12 to lead the game 29-20 at halftime.
The third quarter saw the momentum swing back-and-forth after nearly possession, as both the Dragonettes and the Lady Phoenix had finally found a rhythm offensively. Following a brief ten minute delay in the game due to a spilled water cooler following a scramble for the possession of a loose ball, the quarter finally ended with Sonoraville leading by the score of 41-35.
Unfortunately for the Dragonettes, Sonoraville would not slow down in the final quarter of play, and despite putting up fifteen points in the final period, it was not enough to foil the Lady Phoenix’s plan for victory. Sonoraville would win the game by the final score 55-50.
Danielle Goss had another outstanding game to build upon her great 2012-2013 season, leading the Nettes in scoring and rebounding with eighteen points and ten rebounds, respectively. Goss also had two assists and one block.
Sarah Smith did her part in helping Pickens stay in the game with Sonoraville, recording ten points as well as eight rebounds in the loss.
Only four Pickens players—Goss, Smith, Haley Kalson, and Kadie Mullinax—recorded any points in the game.
Following the girls’ game came the matchup between the Dragons and the Phoenix in a game that seemed out of reach for the home squad through three quarters of play.
The opening period of play saw Pickens stay within striking distance of Sonoraville, trailing the Phoenix 14-13 once the buzzer sounded to signal the end of the quarter. The Phoenix increased their lead on the Dragons in the second quarter, scoring sixteen points compared to just nine for Pickens to make it a 30-22 game at the end of the first half.
Inspired to pull out a come-from-behind win, the Dragons began to lay the groundwork of pulling off such a feat in the third quarter, outscoring Sonoraville to cut the deficit to 38-32 going into the fourth quarter.
Now clearly in possession of the momentum, Pickens continued to make plays and edge closer to the Phoenix, eventually tying the game 43-43 on an excellent steal by Shannon Brooks, who proceeded to take off down the court and force the Phoenix to foul him, giving the sophomore two shots that he easily sank.
A great set by Tyler Urlab on defense led to a charge being called on Sonoraville late in the fourth quarter, giving Pickens possession with twenty-two seconds remaining in the fourth. The Dragons then proceeded to find the open man on offense, as Urlab made a perfect pass to teammate David Culbreth, who made his layup to give the Dragons a 45-43 lead with just twelve seconds left.
Sonoraville then responded with a quick two-pointer, resulting in the necessity of an overtime session. The Dragons saved their best for the extra four minutes of play, as the team took the lead on a shot by Tyjai Howell off an assist from Brooks with close to one minute remaining in overtime. A key rebound by Tyler Urlab forced a Phoenix foul late, and although he was unable to pad Pickens’ lead, it did result in several more fouls that allowed the Dragons to survive with a 51-47 win.
David Culbreth made plays again and again for the Dragons on Saturday night, leading the team with twelve points in the victory. Culbreth also had five rebounds and one block in the game.
Close behind Culbreth in scoring was Tyjai Howell, who had eleven points along with a team-high twelve rebounds in the contest. Howell also had two assists.
Ryan Curry and Shannon Brooks also played huge roles in keeping the Dragons’ offense firing on all cylinders in this matchup, each scoring nine points in the contest with all of Curry’s points coming via shots behind the arc. Brooks also brought down six rebounds.
Next up for the Dragons and Dragonettes is a trip to Ellijay on Tuesday to face off with the Gilmer Bobcats and Lady Cats in their biggest rivalry game of the year. The girls’ game is slated to tipoff at 6:00 p.m. with the matchup between the boys’ game following its conclusion.