GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Keystone Heights High point guard Kiley Channell used her small, compact body to “body up” against Rickards High’s 6’-1”, 175 pound power forward Mckenzi Lyons in a …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Keystone Heights High point guard Kiley Channell used her small, compact body to “body up” against Rickards High’s 6’-1”, 175 pound power forward Mckenzi Lyons in a rugby-like championship final at the Clay High Christmas Tournament and the result was both players being named to the All-Tournament team for their efforts.
Despite the 5’-4”, 145 pound Channell’s gutsy effort, Lyons won the chaotic final, 50-21, with the score not indicative of the Keystone Heights effort.
Keystone Heights, now 10-2, kept their one loss prior to the game intact with an upset of sorts over Ridgeview in the tournament semifinal in a rematch of the Panthers’ regular season first loss to coach Jessica Sykes-Carter.
“I’ve never been to a tournament final as a coach and the win (Ridgeview) was the best this team has played all season,” said Carter, who missed the final due to knee surgery on game day. “The girls talked about hoping they would get to play Ridgeview here.”
Against Ridgeview, Keystone Heights fell behind to the tune of 27-23 late in the fourth quarter with Panther center Nia Blocton, at 14 points for the game, despite a three-man defensive strategy employed by Carter every time Blocton had the ball.
Ridgeview pushed to a 20-15 third quarter lead.
With 1:50 left in the third, Keystone Heights snuck into a 20-19 score in the close matchup with Yasmin Bryant sinking a rebound off a miss by Rachel Roth as the Lady Indians slowly crept back into the game. Bryant scored moments later after a scrum on the floor had Roth emerge with the ball with a pass to Bryant for a layup for a 21-20 Keystone Heights lead.
An in and out and back in jumper by Emma Rogel for Keystone Heights pushed the Lady Indians up 23-20. Roth banked in a final shot in the third to put the game at 25-20 into the fourth quarter.
Ridgeview finally answered the Keystone Heights surge with Nacoya Blocton bumping in an offensive rebound to end the third at 25-23.
In the fourth quarter that went scoreless for the first three minutes with a rebound to layup by Nia Blocton negated for an offensive charge on Lindsay Qualls, Keystone Heights broke the ice with Bryant canning two free throws for the first points of the fourth quarter to 27-23 with 5:16 left in the game.
Nia Blocton sunk two free throws a minute later to put the score at 27-25 at 4:28. A sisters’ pass from Nia to Nacoya Blocton tied the game at 27-27 with four minutes left as Ridgeview looked to take control under the glass to secure the win.
Qualls nearly upped the Keystone Heights lead with a toilet-bowl three pointer that flipped out of the rim, but Rogel hit the nets just inside the three point stripe to give Keystone Heights the lead at 29-27 at 1:49.
Madi Mitzel banked in a jumper off the left side of the pain to score the game to 31-27 for the Lady Indians at 1:02.
Ridgeview could not get a roll with sharpshooters Alyssa Sherman and Paetyn Miller unable to find the bottom of the net with three pointers bent on taking the lead. A rebounded layup by Nia Blocton put the score at 31-29 with 27 seconds as Ridgeview kept pressing to take back their lead.
Channell would get deep under Miller and draw a foul for a 33-29 lead with 25 seconds. Sherman hit one of two free throws off a Channell foul to 33-30 with 17 seconds.
Bright would give Keystone Height a four-point lead with a free throw to avoid a Miller/Sherman three point buzzer shot with the final at 35-30.
In early round action, St. Johns Country Day School lost 52-49 to Rickards (Taliah Scott 33 Pts) in their tournament opener before beating Bishop Snyder 61-25 (Taliah Scott 21 Pts, Mary Kate Kent 16) and Menendez 61-18 (SJCDS up 18-2 first quarter) to finish third.
Keystone Heights defeated Clay in their opener.
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