Strong Free Throw Shooting Leads to Alexander Win Over Vinton County

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The Alexander Lady Vikings shot 16-of-16 from the foul line in the final quarter to help give them a 57-43 win over Vinton County on Monday.

Sloppy basketball was the dominating theme of the first half as both teams pushed hard and used an intense, up-tempo style offense that led to multiple turnovers and fouls for both teams.

A combined 27 first-half turnovers and poor shooting by both teams led to an interesting opening half in which the Lady Spartans (3-2, 2-0) led 23-22 going into the break. The Lady Vikings (1-2, 0-2) had the size advantage inside, but the Lady Spartans outhustled them and came up with a majority of the 50-50 balls.

“It goes back to fundamentals,” Vinton County coach Rod Bentley said. “We weren’t checking out, and they were more aggressive getting the rebounds.”

The game stayed close throughout and it was all tied up by the end of the third. But the deciding moment came with 3:29 left in the game.

Ally McClain knocked down a clutch corner 3-pointer off a nice feed from Leah Richardson to give Alexander a 41-35 lead. As Vinton County took over, an assistant coach was complaining about the call and got charged with a technical foul. Richardson converted both attempts and the Lady Spartans regained possession. After that sequence, the Lady Vikings couldn’t get themselves back into the game.

Richardson, who scored just six points in the first, came out with a lot more aggression in the second half, and was able to work inside and get to the line throughout the final two quarters.

Michaela Puckett and Jalen Hale weren’t going to go down without a fight, though. Puckett finished with a double-double of 14 points and 10 boards that included three big shots from deep to keep it close. Hale used her height and length to get some good looks inside, as she added 17 points and seven rebounds for the Lady Vikings.

Down the stretch, the seniors really stepped up and led the way for Alexander. Allyson Malone, Makina Milum and McClain combined for just 10 first-half points, but they were huge after the break.

Milum came out of the locker room and really challenged Vinton County in the post. She grabbed 12 rebounds and knocked down three foul shots in the half to bring her to 10 points and 15 boards in the game. Those totals undoubtedly could've been higher, but she committed her fifth foul and had to leave the game midway through the final quarter.

McClain, Malone and Richardson were clutch throughout the final quarter of play. McClain had two big threes and three points from the charity stripe, while Malone and Richardson scored exclusively from the line in the second half.

“We emphasized what we’re doing on the free throw line,” Alexander coach Cory McKnight said. “We told them, simply, they’re free throws. They’re easy.”

Richardson hit 11 of her 12 second-half free throws to give her 17 points for the game to go along with four assists and three steals. Her contributions on both ends of the court helped seal the win in the closing minutes.

Alexander will be back in action Thursday, when they travel to Nelsonville-York to take on the Lady Buckeyes (3-2, 2-1).

Vinton County also have a game Thursday–a home game against the Lady Raiders of River Valley (2-3, 2-1).