RACELAND Teams are used to adapting to different situations on and off the court this season. Raceland opponents have to keep adjusting on the defensive end when guarding Kierston Smith.
The versatile senior can put it on the deck and drive to the basket or can step out and find the bottom of the net with a bucket from downtown.
Smith supplied a game-high 27 points on Saturday afternoon and the Lady Rams withstood a rally from Elliott County to prevail, 51-50, in the opening round of the 16th Region All “A” Classic at Raceland.
Raceland coach Ron Keeton said Smith had to alter her offensive game against the Lady Lions after developing some new sets to get the ball in her hands more.
“She was stellar,” Keeton said. “She gave the performance that you are supposed to get out of a two-time All-Area player in a tournament elimination game. We put her into some positions that she hasn’t been in early in the season. We put in a couple of offenses that helped isolate her.”
“She is just so strong offensively,” he added. “She is a tough matchup for any guard. I thought she made some excellent decisions in the fast break.”
Elliott County made six 3s in the first half to maintain a slim advantage heading into intermission. Maleigh McDaniel opened the contest with a trio of 3-pointers. Abby Adkins added a pair and Jasmine Ison hit another. Ison drained a pair of free throws with no time left on the second-quarter clock to give the Lady Lions a 26-24 lead at halftime.
Elliott County (0-2) had 10 treys in the game but connected on just six shots inside the arc.
“That is the way people are going to play us and we have to be better at it,” Elliott County coach Roy Whitt said. “I think we have seen only one possession against a man-to-man defense in the first two games. We still have to drive into the trees and get better at doing it.”
The offensive struggles continued for the Lady Lions into the third quarter. They went nearly 11 minutes without a field goal. Raceland took advantage of the drought to regain the lead for good.
Smith opened the frame with a pair of 3s and Siyan Hapney, Naomi Maynard and Emma Picklesimer inserted a basket apiece during a stretch that increased the lead to 40-32 in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Rams' defensive adjustments at halftime led to fortunes on the offensive end.
“It was coach (Marty) Thomas’s suggestion,” Keeton said. “During the first half, we were guarding the wings and leaving our backside defender to guard the high post. It was leaving the corners open. We made an adjustment on that. … We were able to get a better contest on their 3s.”
Hapney netted seven points. Picklesimer collected 12 rebounds to go along with her five points. Keeton complimented his group effort.
“Chloe Collins is typically our glue,” Keeton said. “She does everything well. The stat program that we have has a value point system that includes everything that encompasses a game. She is our leader in that because she is steady at all times.
“Today, we got good play from our entire cast,” he continued. “Siyan Hapney was good tonight. Brooklyn Hackworth played well. At this point, it just a feel because you haven’t had enough games to find that rotation.”
Kiley Whitt splashed a triple with 5:28 remaining in the contest. It was the Lady Lions' first basket of the second half, and it seemed to initiate a final surge. Whitt hit another from long range. Adkins and McDaniel supplied the final five points before coming up a point short.
“We got complacent with the ball,” Roy Whitt said. “We wanted to pass the ball and not cut. Raceland packed the zone and did a heck of a job limiting our 3s. Ron coached a heck of a game tonight. I can’t say enough good things about Kierston Smith. She was a nightmare for us tonight. She is a really good player.”
After consecutive setbacks to start the season, Raceland (1-2) finished off a victory.
“The one thing we struggle with is confidence,” Keeton said. “We have so many new situations after losing four seniors. They were big-time contributors over a long period of time. I can see opportunities for every player we have in a varsity uniform.”
The Lady Rams will play Rose Hill Christian at West Carter in the tournament semifinals on Tuesday.
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ELLIOTT CO. FG FT REB TP
Whitt 3-11 0-0 5 8
Mcdaniel 5-11 1-2 6 16
Ison 1-5 2-2 2 5
A. Adkins 4-13 3-3 4 12
K. Adkins 1-8 1-1 4 3
Harley 1-1 0-0 1 2
Sturgill 1-2 2-3 2 4
Howard 0-2 0-0 0 0
Hamilton 0-1 0-0 1 0
TOTALS 16-54 9-11 27 50
FG Pct: 29.6. FT Pct: 81.8. 3-point FGs: 10-28 (Whitt 2-5, Mcdaniel 5-10, Ison 1-2, A. Adkins 2-6, K. Adkins 0-4) PF: 12. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: 10.
RACELAND FG FT REB TP
Hapney 3-7 1-3 2 7
Hackworth 2-4 0-0 2 5
Picklesimer 2-7 1-4 12 5
Smith 10-15 2-4 6 27
Collins 1-4 2-2 5 4
Moore 0-0 0-0 0 0
Broughton 0-0 0-0 1 0
Maynard 1-2 1-2 2 3
TOTALS 19-39 7-15 33 51
FG Pct: 48.7. FT Pct: 46.7. 3-point FGs: 6-11 (Hapney 0-1, Hackworth 1-2, Smith 5-7, Collins 0-1) PF: 11. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: 15.
ELLIOTT CO. 15 11 3 21 — 50
RACELAND 13 11 10 17 — 51
Officials—Gavin Ramsey, Joe Coldiron, Maurio McKissick