Raiderettes move on to Class 1A Final Four with 58-55 OT win over Clay County

Katy Fletcher looks to pass the ball against Clay County. She led all scorers with 21 points.

By Tabitha Evans Moore, EDITOR & PUBLISHER

It’s Wednesday afternoon and the Moore County Raiderettes stand in the west corner of the Murphy Center, hands locked together, watching the finish of the North Greene versus Greenfield game. They aren’t scoping out their next opponent. They know better than that. One game at a time is their motto. Even at a distance, you can spot the raw energy and adrenaline coursing through their collective Columbia blue veins. They’re eager and ready for their turn.

Off the court, they are each quirky, interesting individuals with their own attitudes and ideas about things, but once they put on that Raiderettes uniform they become of one mind and one heart with one big goal in mind. They each want this ride to continue for as long as possible.

Emma Sazonov came off the bench in the second period and played for much of the remainder of the game. She scored four points for Moore County.

Clay County leads at the half by one

It was a nail-biting first period with nine lead changes. The two teams knotted the score five times and ended the first eight minutes tied at 15-15. Ellie Graham led in the first quarter with seven points. The opportunistic baller also snagged steal after steal to give her teammates opportunities. Katy Fletcher followed Graham with six points and Madison Dingler added two from the line.

Moore County jumped out to a one-point lead in the second off a Fletcher free throw, then Clay County’s Bella Ashlock answered with a quick jumper to give the Lady Bulldogs the one point lead, 17-16.

Clay County came out in the second period swinging with an aggressive, in-your-face defensive attack but the Raiderettes not only kept their cool but also used that intensity against the Lady Bulldogs – edging them closer toward foul trouble. By the final buzzer, Clay County would rack up 17 personal fouls to Moore County’s 10.

Around the 6:17 mark, they sent Fletcher to line and she made one of two to tie the game back at 17-17. The Lady Bulldogs then sent Dingler to the line on Moore County’s next possession and she made both to give the Raiderettes a two-point lead, 19-17.

On the next Clay County possession, a heads up Anna Harder snagged a Lady Bulldog pass and headed down court. She fed the ball to Dingler who made an NBA-style floating jumper to give Moore County two more, 21-17. Graham then blocked a Clay County shot and gave the ball back to Dingler for the last points of an eight-point run that gave Moore County a six-point lead.

Ella Eads ended the Lady Bulldog scoring drought with a trey and Fletcher immediately answered with a right side basket to make it 25-20. Clay County answered with another trey – this time from Halle Buford to pull the Lady Bulldogs back within two, 25-23. Fletcher went right back to the same play on the next possession to give the Raiderettes a four-point lead with 3:12 to play in the half.

With less than a minute left in the half, Clay County’s Laci Wix went up for two and drew the and one foul. She made it to pull the Lady Bulldogs within one. Ten seconds later, Madison Hayes drove in for two to give Clay County a narrow 28-27 halftime lead.

Fletcher and Dingler combined for all 12 of Moore County’s second period points.

Ellie Graham puts up two in against Clay County on Wednesday. She scored 17 points and played an impressive defensive game with six steals and three blocked shots during the Class 1A Quarterfinal.

Graham ties the game with 40 seconds to play

Moore County set the pace in the third quarter – outscoring Clay County by two to end the period ahead by one. The two teams traded turnovers for the first minute, then Graham went up for two to give Moore County back the lead. She also earned the and one foul. She missed the free throw, but a heads up Emma Sazonov – who subbed in during the second period – rebounded the ball and put it back up for a quick two to give Moore County a 31-28 lead.

Graham stole a pass on the next Clay County possession and the Raiderettes set up the play. Dingler saw daylight on the left side a swished a three to give Moore County a six-point lead. The Lady Bulldogs then pieced together a five-point run with points from Buford and Ashlock to pull back within one, 34-33, with two minutes remaining in the third.

Moore County answered when Graham spotted a wide open Dingler and she drove inside for two, 36-33. Clay County’s Baylor Walden scored two in the last minute to bring the Lady Dawgs back to one, 36-35

Graham led in the third period with five. Sazonov and Dingler added a basket each.

Moore County drew first blood in the fourth when Anna Harder passed to Graham in the paint for two. The Raiderettes maintained the lead thanks to points by Fletcher, Graham, Dingler, and Sazonov before Lady Bulldog Ella Eads made a trey to tie the game at 46-46 with two minutes to play. Moore County turned over the ball on a walk then fouled Buford. Her two from the line gave Clay County back the lead. Following a timeout, Graham went back inside for clutch points to tie the game at 48-48 with 40 seconds to play.

Clay County managed possession and the opportunity at the win but the jump shot hit well left of the basket and a determined Anna Harder scooped up the rebound to sent the game into overtime.

Graham led in the fourth period with six. Fletcher, Sazonov, and Dingler added two points each.

Fletcher scores two clutch treys in overtime

Clay County got the ball first in overtime and Madison Hayes scored a quick basket to give them a 50-48 edge. Fletcher immediately answered with a trey to give Moore County back the lead, 51-50. The Lady Bulldogs missed their next basket and Graham snagged the rebound. Back on offense, Fletcher went up and swished another trey to make it 54-50 with less than two minutes to play.

The two teams traded turnovers then Clay County fouled Anna Harder. She made one of two to stretch Moore County’s lead to five, 55-50.

Out of a time out as the Moore County student section chanted, Raider Nation, Raider Nation, Clay County’s Ashlock managed two points to make it 55-52 with less than a minute to play. The Lady Bulldogs fouled Fletcher on the next possession. She made one of two to make it a two-possession game, 56-52. With five seconds remaining, Clay County swished a trey to pull back within one point, then immediately fouled Graham. She went to the line and made both shots to put the game out of reach.

At the final buzzer, Moore County earned a 58-55 overtime win against Clay County and a chance to keep playing.

Katy Fletcher led all scorers with 21 points followed by two other double-digit contributors Ellie Graham with 17 and Madison Dingler with 15. Emma Sazonov came off the bench and score four points and Anna Harder added one from the free throw line. Halle Buford led for Clay County with 18 points.

The Raiderettes will now move onto the TSSAA Class 1A Final Four with a match up against the Greenfield Jackets on Friday at 12:45 p.m. at the Murphy Center. As always, the TSSAA will broadcast games live on the NFHS Network or if you don’t have a subscription, The Lynchburg Times will be there and will post live score updates from our Facebook page. •

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