In a battle of unbeaten 2-0 teams, the Patrick County Lady Cougars came away with a thrilling come from behind victory to remain unbeaten, besting the visiting Staunton River Golden Eagles, 46-44 on December 1.
From the opening tip, it was a physical, hard-fought game. Both teams played tight, aggressive defense, forcing turnovers and making scoring difficult in the early going. At the end of the first quarter, Staunton River led 13-10.
The Lady Cougars started strong in the second quarter with an 8-0 run, taking the 18-13 lead. The Golden Eagles came back with a run of their own, tying the game at 18 with 2:34 to go in the half. Physical play continued with players on both sides, contesting every loose ball and rebound. Staunton River hit a 3-pointer with seconds left to take a 25-22 lead into halftime.
It was the Golden Eagles that came out strongly in the second half, going up by ten with 3:09 to go in the third quarter. Patrick County closed the gap to eight with 1:45 to go before tough defense prevailed, holding both teams scoreless for the rest of the quarter.
Down by eight, the Lady Cougars chipped away at the deficit in the fourth quarter with smothering defense. With 2:51 to go in the game, Patrick County had closed the gap to two points as the home crowd grew louder with every Lady Cougar point scored. Following a Staunton River free throw, the gap grew to three points.
Aniya Penn hit a three pointer to tie the game at 44-44, causing an eruption of cheers from the Cougar faithful. The crowd would get even louder when the Lady Cougars, once again led by smothering defensive play, caused another turnover that led to the go-ahead basket with 38 seconds to go.
The Golden Eagles broke the full court press, getting off a potentially game-winning three-pointer that sailed over the basket. Staunton River won the battle for the loose ball, but the Lady Cougar defense came up big, not allowing the Golden Eagles a good look at the basket as the last seconds ticked off. When the buzzer sounded, the Lady Cougars celebrated their hard fought, 46-44 victory.
Despite being down, the Lady Cougars never let up on defense or effort. “That’s something we’ve been stressing,” said Head Coach Tony Mosley. “We’re going to make mistakes. Other teams are going to make plays. We have to recover from that, and we did that tonight.”
Defensively, the Lady Cougars were relentless, forcing 28 turnovers and putting pressure on the Golden Eagles the entire game. “I’m happy because we’ve spent a lot of time working on defense and it showed tonight,” said Coach Mosley.
Leading the way for the Lady Cougars was Aniya Penn with 13 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Lilly Hazelwood chipped in 8 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists while Journey Moore and Allanah Mitchell added 6 points each.
Coach Mosley liked his team’s effort on the night and what it means going forward. “I’m so happy and so proud of these young ladies. I hope this is something that we’re going to keep building on and just get better and better.”