Raider girls win, take on Central Holmes

Staff Writer

They played their best quarter of the year, then got knocked down, and responded with their best overall half of the year. For the Oak Hill Academy girls basketball team, it added up to a 61-47 victory over Marshal Academy in the opening game of the district tournament at Marshal.

The win earned the Lady Raiders, the tournament’s fourth seed, a spot in tonight’s district semifinals against top seed Central Holmes Christian Academy.

It also punches the Lady Raiders’ ticket to the North State tournament, no matter what happens Thursday.

“We finally played like we can,” Coach Mindy Bowman said of her team. “Heart, hustle and hungry to win. Great defense by the entire team, definitely a team effort.”

The Lady Raiders got a one-two punch with 22 points each from Carley Wooten and Rachel McLain. Wooten added 13 rebounds while McLain had 10.

Early in the year, Wooten carried much of the load offensively while McLain was out injured. When McLain returned, she picked up, but Wooten slipped. Tuesday marked the first time both were firing on all cylinders.

And the rest of the team added enough to keep Marshall honest on defense.

Oak Hill blew out to a 23-10 first-quarter lead as Wooten erupted for 10 points and senior Reagan Freeman added six. It was the team’s top opening quarter of the year.

But after the fast start, the Lady Raiders went cold, scoring just nine points as Marshal cut the led to 32-29 at the half.

Then things began to gel on both ends of the court for Oak Hill. The offense put up 14 points in the third period while holding Marshall to just nine. The Lady Raiders added to the cushion in the fourth, outscoring Marshall 15-9 to seal the win.

“The intensity was very good on defense which sparked the offense,” Bowman said.

While Wooten did much of her damage in the first half, McLain, a junior who scored only three in the first two periods, erupted for 19 in the second half, taking the pressure off Wooten.

Marshall had no answer for the combination.

“Carley finally got going,” Bowman said of the sophomore, “and Rachel was a big deal inside on defense and offense. We’re still not getting much scoring from our guards, but they did get many assists and great defense.”

In addition to the big games from McLain and Wooten, Freeman, the team’s only senior, finished with her six first quarter points, Sydney Pierce and Dovie Suggs scored three each, Julianne Glusenkamp, Sims Bryan and McKenzie Middleton contributed two each, and Anna Grace Reed had a free throw.

The Lady Raiders meet Central Holmes at 6:45 p.m. tonight. Central Holmes won the two regular season meetings, pulling out a close win in the fourth quarter at Oak Hill before blowing out the Lady Raiders two weeks later in the Holmes gym.

The winner advances to Saturday’s championship game versus the winner of Carroll Academy and Winona Christian. The loser goes to the consolation game against the loser of the Carroll-Winona clash.

Either way, it’s on to next week’s North State which also is at Marshall.

The Oak Hill boys, the number two seed in the district, also are in action today at 5:30 p.m. at Marshall Academy, taking on three seed Carroll Academy with the winner going to Saturday’s title match.