The Craig County girls’ basketball team was one win away from a trip to the Class 1A, Region C tournament as the paper went to press. Craig hosted Eastern Montgomery on Monday and needed a win to clinch a spot in the regional tournament.
The Rockets came into this week’s Pioneer District tournament at 8-11 and they were the fourth seed. That matched them up with fifth seeded Eastern Montgomery for the first round. The Mustangs came in at 6-15 and Craig beat them twice during the regular season, including a 54-16 win in Elliston last week.
“I told the girls how important this game was,” said coach Randy Hale prior to Monday’s tip-off. “We can’t afford to take them for granted.”
Other first round games found sixth seeded Bath County at third seeded Covington and seventh seeded Highland at number two Narrows. Top-seeded Parry McCluer got a first round bye.
The tournament moves to Bath County on Wednesday, and if the Rockets won Monday they would play 19-2 Parry McCluer at 6 pm. The championship game is 2 pm Saturday and there’s a third place game at 4 pm. All four teams that play Saturday will advance to the regional, and the consolation game will determine seeding for next week’s regional tournament.
Craig had a balanced scoring attack in last week’s win over East Mont. Tierrney Zysk led the team with 14 points but Kaylee Pauley had nine, Taylor Sloss and Jaci McAlwee had eight each and Autumn Hutchison had seven points. Zysk also had 14 rebounds and Alexus Jones had seven assists.
On Friday the Rockets hosted Narrows and dropped a close one, 46-42. The Rockets fell behind early and a late rally came up just short.
“We had a chance to win it,” said Hale. “We started slowly, and we can’t afford to do that.”
Zysk had 17 in this one, followed by Pauley with eight, Sloss with seven and McAlwee with six. Zysk had 10 rebounds, eight coming on the offensive board, and Pauley had eight assists.
On Saturday the girls wrapped up the regular season with a 63-52 win at Bath County. The girls were tired after a long trip for their third game in four days, but were able to pull it out as Zysk scored 27 points on 12-for-16 shooting from the floor. Tierrney also had 14 rebounds and Sloss had 15 points, nine boards and five assists.
Hutchison, the team’s floor general, missed the game will illness but Hale was hoping she’d be back for Monday’s big game with East Mont. If Craig won that one the girls are assured of at least three more games, two in the district and as many as they can win in the regional.
“I’m happy with the progress the girls have made,” said Hale. “They’ve been playing hard.”