HICKORY FLAT • Hickory Flat, the Div. 3-1A champions, survived a scare from Blue Mountain on Monday night in the first round of the Class 1A Girls Basketball State Playoffs.
Senior sensation R'Daztiny Harris poured in 39 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to send the Lady Rebels (26-5) into the second round with a 50-46 win over the Lady Cougars.
"She is about as special as they come," said Hickory Flat head coach Brent Kuhl. "She's tough and aggressive. She doesn't let anything get her down. Even when we were down four, she wanted the ball and got to the basket."
"It's almost impossible because I ran two girls at her all night and she still scored," said Blue Mountain head coach Regina Chills. "I thought Katherine (Artberry) did a pretty good job on her but she's just a good player. There is nothing else you can say about her, she's just hands down a great player."
The Lady Rebels built an early 8-2 lead behind a pair of 3-pointers from freshman Abby Tatum and Harris' first basket with 4:08 left in the first quarter. Blue Mountain used a 7-0 run on layups from Teauna Foote and Annija Chills, plus a 3-pointer from Arare Foote to grab the 9-8 lead. Harris ended the first with four points in the final 34 seconds to give Hickory Flat a 12-9 lead entering the second.
Harris exploded out of the gates in the second, scoring the quarter's first six points. After Blue Mountain's Katherine Artberry scored on a layup, Harris dropped in two more baskets for Hickory Flat's largest lead of the game at 11 with 5:37 on the clock.
The tough-minded Lady Cougars again cut into the lead with another 7-0 run. Chills scored a layup with 29 seconds left to send Blue Mountain into the half down just 25-20.
Blue Mountain opened the second half on a 7-2 spurt with five points coming from Teauna Foote to tie the game at 27-27. Later in the third, back-to-back layups from Teauna Foote and Arare Foote gave the Lady Cougars a 31-29 lead, their first since the first quarter. Harris tied the game on a jump shot with 31 seconds left before Teauna Foote buried a corner 3-pointer with four seconds left for a 34-31 lead as the Lady Cougars entered the fourth up three.
Blue Mountain built a four-point lead twice in the final period, the second of which coming on a layup from Chills at the 6:05 mark. Harris flipped the script, scoring her team's next seven points as Hickory Flat took back a 41-39 lead.
Eighth grader Katherine Artberry scored on an assist from another eighth grader Arare Foote to tie the game 41-41 with 4:42 left. The free throw line gave Hickory Flat a three-point lead before Teauna Foote added a basket and a free throw to tie the game once again with 2:37 to play.
Down the stretch, the young Lady Cougars struggled to find their offense, being held scoreless over a two-minute span and Hickory Flat took advantage with a 5-0 run, including the game-sealing free throws from Jenna Poff with nine seconds left.
Teauna Foote led Blue Mountain with 20 points. Chills pitched in 10 points in her final game as a Lady Cougar.
The Lady Rebels advance to host Wheeler on Friday night in their second round matchup. The Lady Eagles defeated Coffeeville 68-48 on Monday night.
The Lady Cougars' season ends at 12-18 but with tons of promise on the horizon with a plethora of young players.
"I've seen so much growth from them," claimed Chills. "From the beginning of the season to now, I can see a huge leap in growth as far as just being an all around player. I only had one player that actually played last year and so everyone got a lot of experience this year and I know they will carry it over into next year. I'm excited about them even though it wasn't a season that I'm accustomed to, I'm still looking forward to next year."