CLEVELAND – For first time in recent memory, the Kirk Academy Raiders and Raiderettes have won the district tournament in the same season.
Saturday, the Raiderettes took down top-seeded North Delta 51-46 to win the girls’ title. The Raiders capped a turnaround season by winning a 45-28 decision over Bayou.
The wins give the teams one of the top seeds in the upcoming North AA Tournament this week at Canton Academy.
“It was a big win for our girls,” Coach Amy Carroll Hudspeth said. “We scrapped and fought hard after falling behind early.”
Kirk, 20-12, behind 10-1 early in the game. In fact, the Raiderettes first field goal of the night was a bucket from Hayden Grantham with 52.4 seconds left in the period to make it 10-3.
That was the start of an 8-0 run over a three-minute span, giving Kirk an 11-10 advantage early in the second period.
“We had some opportunities early, but missed some easy shots,” Hudspeth said. “To our credit, the girls kept fighting.”
Kirk’s ability to get points off the press was one of the differences in the game.
“We felt like we could press them,” Hudspeth said. “Our defense is designed to help us score on the offensive end. We converted those turnovers into points, for the most part, on the offensive end.”
The second period went back and forth with three lead changes. North Delta scored the final three points of the period and led 20-18 at halftime.
In the third period, the game stayed tight with three different occasions that the game was tied. North Delta used a 5-0 run to lead 29-24 late in the period. Grantham’s late bucket cut the deficit to 31-28 heading into the final period.
Trailing 34-29 with just over seven minutes left, the Raiderettes used a bucket from Lauren Snyder and one from Carley Hudspeth and a Margaret Taylor free throw to make it 34-34 with five minutes left.
With the score tied at 37-37, Kirk had four straight free throws from Lauren Snyder and Lexie Simmons along with a bucket from Snyder making it 43-37 with 2:22 left.
North Delta got as close as 47-46 with 30.3 seconds left. Snyder and Simmons hit free throws to account for the final margin.
The Raiderettes finished 27-42 from the line. North Delta was 17-34.
Lauren Snyder led Kirk with 18 points. Simmons scored 12. Grantham had eight. Brett Adair Kyle and Margaret Taylor scored four. Carley Hudspeth finished with three. Kassandra Beck chipped in two.
Grantham and Snyder were named to the All-Tournament team at the conclusion.
Kirk turns its sights to the North AA Tournament at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Canton. The Raiderettes are slated to play Prairie View Academy of Bastrop, La. Last season, the Lady Spartans eliminated Kirk in the second round of the North AA Tournament at Leake.
Throughout most of the season, the Raiders have relied on their defense despite their struggles, at times, on the offensive end.
This time, the offense was able to put 45 points on the board against the homestanding Colts.
“For the most part, we have defended well all season,” Coach Dennis Sims said. “I thought we defended well and made some shots. That’s the key whether it’s us or whoever. Our guys played hard and are very deserving.”
The 19 wins more than double the total of seven from last year.
It took nearly three minutes for either team to score Saturday. Kirk led 6-0 over halfway through the opening period. Bayou made a late run to trail 12-8 at the end of the opening period.
Kirk got control of the game in the second period outscoring Bayou 15-5 to lead 27-13 at halftime.
The Raiders took a 38-20 lead late in the third period on a bucket from Gunner Hudspeth with 1:20 left in the period.
Kirk’s biggest lead was a 42-20 early in the fourth period.
Cole Crenshaw paced all scorers with 17 points. Jaggars Denley scored nine and Jordan Childs finished with eight. Chris Parella scored seven and Hudspeth chipped in with four.
Crenshaw and Parella were named to the All-Tournament team.
The Raiders are scheduled to face River Oaks School of Monroe, La., in the opening round of the North AA at Canton. Game time is scheduled for 5:15 p.m.
A win by the Raiders would move them into the semifinals Friday and also secure a berth in the State AA next week at Winona Christian School.
Kirk led 16-8 at the end of opening period against Winona Christian. The Raiders were ahead 22-15 at halftime.
In the second half, the Raiders led until Winona took the lead in the game’s final minute. The Raiders took advantage of a missed free throw getting the ball down the court. Parella hit a three-pointer as the horn sounded to give KA a 32-31 win.
Parella led Kirk with 10 points. Hudspeth had six and Adam Campbell scored five. Crenshaw finished with four. Davis Roberts and Denley both had three. Childs scored a point.
The Raiderettes advanced to the finals with a 39-26 win over Indianola.
Grantham led Kirk with 10 points. Carley Hudspeth had nine points. Snyder scored eight points. Simmons and Taylor each had five points. Kyle added two points.