BY MATTHEW SPARKS
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
Russell’s Madison Darnell drives to the basket between Morgan Curley and Chloe Collins of the Lady Rams during the first quarter.
Russell’s Lakie Sanders grabs a rebound in front of Raceland’s Chloe Collins on Wednesday night.
KEVIN GOLDY | THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
RUSSELL It took just eight minutes for Russell to get rid of its holiday hangover.
The Lady Devils used a lengthy second-quarter run to propel them to a 55-28 victory over Raceland on Wednesday night at Marvin Meredith Gym.
“It was the layover,” Russell coach Mandy Layne said after her team played its first game in 12 days. “… We got going after we put in that halfcourt (trap). It was really effective for us. It really got them off-balanced in the second quarter.”
The two teams played to a 7-7 tie after one frame, but Russell regained control with 18-1 run over the last seven minutes of the first half.
The Lady Devils also quickened the pace in the second stanza after the Lady Rams seized it to begin the contest. Madison Darnell led the defensive charge with her length up front.
“We have some quickness behind her,” Layne said. “We are super-athletic. We definitely challenged them because I didn’t think we were as prepared as we needed to be. It’s rough after a layover, but I couldn’t have asked for any more from them the last three quarters. It was a great team effort.”
Raceland coach Ron Keeton was pleased with his team’s offensive opportunities in the opening half. He believes if some of those shots found the bottom of the net, the game could have veered in a new direction.
“We were really pleased with how we attacked their defense,” Keeton said. “We got open shots, we just didn’t make them. We went into halftime shooting 15 percent, but we were only down 15 points. We were super pleased with the effort we got. Our execution on our defense was really good. But you put so much pressure on yourself to get a stop when you can’t get a bucket to fall.”
The Lady Rams shot a frosty 18 percent from the field. Raceland (5-8) posted just three points in the second quarter and trailed 25-10 at the break. Keeton felt his team was still in striking distance.
“We have to make shots,” Keeton said. “If we make shots, we are a good basketball team. We were playing a really good basketball team, one of the top three or four in the region, and we are right there with them. If we make a couple of shots, maybe they don’t have 25 at halftime. It all comes down to making shots, and for the most part, we let it fly pretty confidently in the first half.”
Senior Rachel Michael ignited the run before halftime with five quick points. Ty Mitchell, McKennah Morris and Michael each had triples during the spurt.
“She had a great game on both ends of the floor,” Layne said of Michael. “She is a 40 percent 3-point shooter. Any time she is open, we give her the green light. I felt like when she started hitting, it became contagious and fed off to the other girls. We started putting things together.”
Mitchell had a team-high 14 points for Russell (7-5). Michael and Lakie Sanders each tallied 11 points. Darnell added eight points and nine rebounds.
Sanders finished off an and-1 while recording seven of the Lady Devils’ final nine points of the third quarter. She is growing more comfortable in a larger role this season, according to her coach.
“I was really proud of her in the second half,” Layne said. “She can score, and she finally started looking for her shot and posting up hard. I was really happy she looked to score. I think she is double-double every night.”
Lauren Runyon netted 17 points to lead the Lady Rams. Morgan Curley (6) and Kierston Smith (5) completed the scoring.
Russell starts district seeding play with a win. Raceland falls to 0-2.