By RICKEY CLARDY
UNIONVILLE — It looked like one of those nights as the Community Viqueens could only muster nine points and trailed the hot-hitting Grundy County Lady Jackets by 13 points early in the second quarter of their District 9-AA matchup Thursday night.
But the Viqueens stayed within striking distance with 11 free throws in the first half and finally took the lead for good in the last 1:08 with six consecutive foul shots as Community defeated the Lady Jackets 49-45.
The Viqueens started in good shape by taking a 5-2 lead with 6:12 left in the opening quarter, but Community (9-16, 4-3) would lose the lead for most of the game as the Lady Jackets scored the next 12 points to take a 14-5 advantage with 2:51 left.
Alyssa White of the Viqueens had two free throws and four points as Grundy County took a 17-9 lead to the second quarter.
The Lady Jackets finished an 8-0 run by scoring the first five points of the quarter and took their biggest lead at 22-9 with 6:46 remaining.
White and Brooklyn Yoes each had four points for the Viqueens as Community connected on seven free throws and trailed Grundy County 27-19 at the intermission.
“It was a mess in the first half,” Coach Cody Pierce of the Viqueens said. “Just a lot of things not going our way and we weren’t working hard enough on offense at times.”
The Viqueen defense stepped up in the third quarter as the Lady Jackets could only manage four points.
Meanwhile, the Viqueens used four points by White and treys from Yoes and Anna Haskins to go on a 7-0 run and tie the game at 31-31 with 48 seconds left.
The game remained tied going to the final quarter as a 60-foot heave by Carlee Smartt of the Lady Jackets found the bottom of the basket but was released just after the buzzer.
“We came out finally in the third quarter where we controlled the tempo and it ended paying off late in the game,” Pierce said.
Haskins scored five points before fouling with 2:26 left in the game as the Lady Jackets clung to a 43-42 lead.
The Viqueens would battle and claw and finally took the lead for good as Taylar Wessner connected on two free throws with 1:08 remaining to give Community a 45-43 lead.
After a Lady Jacket failed three-point attempt, Yoes connected on two free throws with 16 seconds left to put the Viqueens up 47-43.
A Grundy County field goal with six seconds remaining cut the Community lead to 47-45, but Yoes sealed the deal by making two foul shots with three seconds left as the Viqueens pulled out the district win.
“Grundy’s not scared to shoot it and they can hit shots,” Pierce said.
“We knew coming in we had to limit them to one shot, and we did great in the second half limiting them to one shot and defending a little bit harder.”
White and Yoes each had 14 points to lead the Viqueens while Haskins added 11.
Smartt and Kasadee Crabtree each had 15 points to lead the Lady Jackets.
The telling statistic was at the charity stripe, where the Viqueens finished 20-of-26 at the line while Grundy County was 5-of-14.
“Those free throws were huge and they’re going to be big the rest of the year,” Pierce said. “We’ve got to hit them and they can change the game and they did tonight.”
Community turns around and visits Grundy County Friday night at 6 p.m. as the Viqueens finish regular season and district play.
Grundy Co. 17 10 4 14 — 45
Community 9 10 12 18 — 49
Grundy Co.: Carlee Smartt 15, Kasadee Crabtree 15, Kallie Parson 8, Jaidys McDaniel 5, Gracie Panter 2, Kathryn Lusk, Mallory Woodlee, Elyce Rymer.
Community: Alyssa White 14, Brooklyn Yoes 14, Anna Haskins 11, Taylar Wessner 6, Jayla Mangrum 4, Gracie Daniel, Kathryn Sego, Sarah Melson, Sara Flannagan.
3-Point goals: Grundy Co. (4): Smartt 2, Parson, McDaniel; Community (5): Haskins 3, Yoes 2.
Halftime score: Grundy Co. 27, Community 19.