Photo by Scott Arthur.
Mason County only led the game for two minutes and twenty-three seconds. That would be all they needed to beat Bracken County in the Fieldhouse on Monday night.
Bracken County has not beaten the Lady Royals since the 2014 district tournament. It was Macey Littleton’s three with 2:23 left to go in the game that gave the Lady Royals their thirteenth straight win over their district rivals.
The game started off slow with neither team scoring until two minutes in. A Nicole Archibald three gave Bracken the 8-0 edge after four minutes of play, prompting a Mason County timeout.
“I just told our girls before the game there’s nobody better than us,” said Bracken County coach Troy Archibald. “You have to build their confidence, and when they play good I really don’t think there is anyone we can’t beat.”
“We really had a tough time of putting the ball in the basket”, said Mason County Paula Buser. “I told them to look inside and attack the basket.”
That would be true for both teams. As Mason County shot 11/44, just 25% for the game with Bracken shooting 12/44.
“I thought we were sluggish in our movements on offense. I contribute some of that to playing four games in six days. We were tired and it showed on the floor”, said Buser.
After the timeout, Mason scored their first bucket of the game, going on a 7-0 run to make it a one-point game. Archibald answered with bucket and her third three of the night, followed by a three for Avery Sims to make it 13-10 Bears at the end of one.
The second quarter didn’t start off any better than the first with neither team scoring for over half the period. The score at halftime was 22-18 Bracken County and at the end of the 3rd the Lady Bears were still on top 31-24.
“We played our defense, and we had our gameplan, and it was working.” Said coach Archibald.
“In the fourth quarter it was all Mason County. Macey Littleton made two threes, one to start and one to end the quarter. She led Mason with 13 points with Avery Simms and Lexi Young following at 8 a piece.
“I thought (Littleton) stepped up as leader on this team. I told her and Avery (Simms) before the game they had to stay on the floor tonight”, said Buser.
Nicole Archibald led all scorers with 15 points and three threes. Bracken County’s next highest scorer had only 5 points.
Coach Archibald said “Other than Nicole we didn’t have girls looking to shoot the ball. So, we need to get with the other girls and work on them being more aggressive and looking to score.”
Bracken County was held scoreless in the fourth quarter. “Turnovers is what got us in the fourth quarter”, said Archibald. “I think we played not to lose instead of playing to win.”
Coach Buser said about the turnaround, “We talked at halftime about doing your job and running our sets to get shots. We talked about fighting through things and stepping up our defensive pressure. These girls continued to fight throughout the game and never gave up.”
Archibald had a chance at the end after a Bracken steal but her game-winning three shot at the buzzer bounced off the front of the rim.
Troy Archibald talked to Nicole and his team after the game that the missed layups and three missed free throws is what lost them the game. “That isn’t the shot that beat us”, he said.
The two last met in last year’s district tournament where Mason County won 49-35. They will meet again on January 23rd in Brooksville.
“It wasn’t a pretty game but it’s a win and we move on to the next one. Hopefully getting back into gym in a couple of days to work on things”, said Buser.
Mason County (33) – Macey Littleton 13, Lexi Young 8, Avery Sims 8, Amarah Reed 2, Sedaya Thomas 2.
Bracken County (31) – Nicole Archibald 15, Macey Sharp 5, Brianna Bauer 4, Lexy Brooks 4, Ella Johnson 2, Gineva Riley 1.
Rebounds: Mason 35, Bracken 34
Turnovers: Mason 13, Bracken 12
Field Goals: Mason 11/44, Bracken 12/44
Threes: Mason 4/17, Bracken 4/18
Free Throws: Mason 7/9, Bracken 3/6