Russell coach Mandy Layne could not stop smiling.
She just witnessed her team get a big early-season win as it defeated Boyd County 58-53, Thursday night at Marvin Meredith Gymnasium.
"I couldn't be any prouder than I am right now," Layne said. "I thought our kids hung in there and played as hard as they could.'
Maggie Jachimczuk led a balanced scoring attack for the Lady Devils with 19 points.
Russell lost a bulk of its scoring for last year. Arden Gross graduated and its top scorer, Hope Parsley transferred to a school in Ohio.
The Lady Devils still have an experienced group of guards that Layne can rely on down the stretch.
"Our guards are underrated," Layne said. "They did a great job running the floor tonight."
Senior Lexi Berry scored 11 points and connected on three from long range.
"It gives us so much confidence," Berry said of the win. "We lost two of our main scorers from last year. We were nervous to begin the season but this victory will boost our confidence."
Shelby Huddleston continually found her way to the basket as she sliced her way through the Boyd County 2-3 zone for lay ups or dishing one of her nine assists.
The happy recipient of Huddleston's dimes was Jachimczuk. The freshman had numerous layups finishing 8 of 13 from the field and also grabbed five boards.
Berry also looks for number 34 when she is driving to the rim.
"We do that a lot in practice," Berry said. " I always know where she is at. I can dish it to her and I know she will make it every time."
Playing in its first game of the season, the Lady Lions struggled to find the shooting touch.
Russell's zone defense kept a close eye on Boyd County star Taylor Wheeler which left many open jump shots but the Lady Lions were unable to connect finishing on 6 of 25 from 3-point range.
"I thought we did an awesome job on Wheeler," Layne said. " We made them shoot from the outside and it ended up working out."
Wheeler still ended up with a double-double: 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Marshall commit Logan Farley led the scoring with 19.
The tightly-fought contest featured 10 lead changes. The biggest lead was six, held by Russell early in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Devils hit 9 0f 10 free throws in the final minute to secure the victory. Eighth-grader Madison Darnell hit 5 from the charity stripe in the final seconds and provided a big boost off the bench late in the game.
Darnell also hit double figures with 12.
"She is going to be special," Layne said of her young guard. "She loves these situations and she is so competitive."
Layne hopes the win gives her team the confidence to achieve higher goals later on this season.
"This win makes us realize we can compete with anybody and possibly play for a region title."
BOYD COUNTY 9 14 15 15 — 53
RUSSELL 12 13 14 19 — 58
Boyd County (53) — eeves 8, Tay.Wheeler 13, Fraley 19, Lunsford 5,Goins 8,
Stewart, Sav. Wheeler 3-PT FG: 6-25 FT: 5-10 PF: 19 Fouled out: Goins.
Russell (58) — Berry 11, Huddleston 7, Harrison 2, Jachimczuk 19, Carter 7,
Mac. Darnell, Sparks, Mad. Darnell 12, Maynard 3-PT FG: 5-10 FT: 15-20 PF:
15 Fouled out: None.