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By David Sharp
Highland outscored Clark County (4-8) by a 38-30 margin during the second half of their Palmyra Tournament girl’s third place game. The Lady Cougars had three players at or near double digits during a 65-54 win over the Lady Indians.
Clark County was led by senior Alexis Ellison with 27 points. Ellison scored the 1000th point of her Lady Indian career, driving past Highland leading scorer Ansley Bringer for the milestone basket with 3:39 to play in the game.
Allie Hayden put Clark County on top of a 7-3 score in the first quarter. Ansley Bringer tied the game at seven with 1:15 remaining in the first period. Clark County led 11-9 after one set.
The teams battled through a back and forth second period. Ansley Bringer and Summer Goings tossed in Lady Cougar three balls, putting Highland (9-9) up 22-18 with 2:55 remaining in the second quarter.
“That was a big game for us. It wasn’t just me,” Highland forward Ansley Bringer said. “We definitely helped each other. We looked where one another was going. We focused on what we had to do. We did what we had to do to win that game.”
“It was a big game. My teammates cheered me on,” Ansley Bringer said. We just did what we had to do to win.”
Olivia Miller tied the game at 24 with a Clark County score at the 29 second mark of the first half. Olivia Ritterbusch sank two Cougar free throws for a 27-24 halftime lead.
Ali Reed put Highland on top of a 42-38 score with a Highland three at the 3:40 point of the third quarter. Highland took a 45-32 lead with 3:18 showing on the third quarter clock.
Clark County battled back with a 9-3 run late in the period. Dettriona Church sank two free throws for a 45-39 Highland lead heading to the fourth quarter. Ali Reed padded the Lady Cougar with a three ball seconds into the fourth quarter.
Highland defended well in the second half. The Lady Cougars employed a takeaway defense to defeat their conference rival.
Alexis Ellison canned a three pointer with 4:42 to play for a 54-42 Highland lead. Dettriona Church scored a Lady Indian field goal. Alexis Ellison started an assault on the goal in front of the Clark County bench.
Ellison drove past Highland standout Ansley Bringer, putting the ball off the glass for her 1000th career point with 3:39 to play in the fourth quarter. Highland led by a 54-46 margin.
“I think we played good up until the third quarter,” Alexis Ellison said. “We didn’t have many legs left. We started giving out. I heard take it to the hole from the crowd, so I did,” Alexis Ellison said of the history making scoring move.
“I looked up and my parents were holding the sign. Basketball means a lot to me,” Alexis Ellison said. “I definitely couldn’t have done that without my coaches, my teammates. My community. Just everyone in general helped me throughout my career.”
Highland stretched their lead to 63-46 with 1:55 to play in the game. Ansley Bringer scored a Highland hoop late in the game. Alexis Ellison fired in a Clark County home run ball.
Clark County closed on an 8-2 run. The Lady Cougars took the win by the 65-45 final score. Dettriona Church and Ally Fox scored seven points each. Olivia Miller, Hope Ross and Allie Hayden added four points each.
“The first half was a tough half,” Highland coach Ashton Jaco said. “We got in some foul trouble. We hit a few shots. We really focused in on that 1-2-2 defense. We played well out of it.”
“We did some flying around and we rebounded well out of it,” Ashton Jaco said. “Our best offense is our defense. We really succeed when we are getting steals and getting easy layups.”
“That’s definitely the difference in this game.” Highland coach Ashton (Luttrull) Jaco was a career 1000 point scorer during her Lady Cougar basketball career. “She is definitely a great player,” Ashton Jaco said of being on the bench as Highland’s head girls’ basketball coach watching Alexis Ellison join the 1000 point club.
“She is hard to guard. We didn’t shut her down by any means. You want to see kids succeed,” Coach Jaco said. “Thankfully even though she was hitting her shots today, we were still able to still get a win.”
“The biggest takeaway for us is Ansley (Bringer) got three fouls in the first half,” Coach Jaco said. “I sat her the whole third quarter. She is our go to player. Our kids stepped up and got us a ten or 12 point lead without her on the floor.”
“For them to see they are capable of doing that is even bigger because when she comes back in the fourth quarter, she is like an added bonus. That was huge for those kids to score the basketball and hit some shots.”
Ansley Bringer fired in a game high 29 Highland points. Morgan Keith was in double figures with 11 points. Ali Reed scored nine points. Summer Goings put in seven points. Dallas Dare scored four Cougar points. Olivia Ritterbusch scored three points. Carly Murphy added two Highland points.