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Kirk Academy’s Lexie Simmons fights to keep the ball away from two Prairie View Academy players during action at the North AA Tournament at Canton. The Raiderettes finished third and will take part in the State AA this week at Winona. Staff Photo / Chuck Hathcock

Sports Editor

   CANTON – There was a lot more at stake than usual for the Kirk Raiders Saturday afternoon in the consolation round of the North AA Tournament hosted by Canton Academy.
   Coming off a 30-point loss at the hands of top-ranked Leake Academy, the Raiderettes and Lady Patriots met for the third time this season. In the earlier meetings, Winston won by 30 and by 14.
   The third time turned out to be the charm for Kirk. Kirk overcame a 20-18 halftime deficit with a big second half outscoring Winston 35-26 to come away with a 53-46 win.
   Earlier in the tournament, Kirk won a 50-43 decision over Prairie View (La.). The Raiderettes were sent into the consolation round with a 61-31 loss to top-ranked Leake Academy.
   Following the tournament, Kirk improves to 22-13 overall. The Raiderettes gain the third seed in next week’s State Class AA Tournament at Winona. They open play against South runner up Simpson. The Lady Cougars led Bowling Green (La.) for three periods before losing a 50-43 decision to the Lady Bucs from Franklinton, La.
   “It was a big win for our girls,” Coach Amy Carroll Hudspeth said. “We wanted to get the third seed to stay away from Bowling Green in the opening round of the state.”
   The game was tight throughout; particularly in the first half. There were four ties in the opening half. Kirk trailed just 20-18 at intermission despite just a lone field goal in the second period.
   “We were fortunate to be behind by two points at half with all the easy shots we missed,” Hudspeth said. “It’s been a problem all season for us.”
   Defense was the difference in the second half for Kirk. The Raiderettes trailed by four points on two occasions. Trailing by three points, Kirk used a 5-0 run to take a 29-27 lead. Including in that run was a pair of free throws from Margaret Taylor following a technical foul on Winston coach Robin Chastain.
   “We were really good defensively against them particularly in the second half,” Hudspeth said. “Our pressure was able to force them into some mistakes and we converted them into some easy baskets.”
   Taylor, who finished with 15 points, had a three-pointer and Lauren Snyder added a free throw to give KA a 35-29 advantage. The Raiderettes led 35-31 at the end of the third period.
   Taylor opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer to make it 38-31. Snyder added a bucket, making it 40-31 at the 6:26 mark of the fourth period. Snyder led Kirk with 16 points. The duo  were named to the All-Tournament team.
   Kassandra Beck had a solid game off the bench with 11 points. Hayden Grantham scored seven. Carley Hudspeth had three and Lexie Simmons chipped in a point.
   Winston got as close as five on two different occasions before Kirk got the lead to double digits at 52-42 in the final minute. Katie McCool and Hayden Hudspeth had consecutive buckets to get Winston within 52-46.
   Marianne Ward and McCool led Winston with 16 points.

   The Raiderettes trailed 32-7 at the end of the opening period and 51-19 at halftime.
   Taylor led Kirk with eight points. Beck scored six points. Simmons had five points. Snyder and Hudspeth each finished with four. Juli DiPaolo and Grantham both added two.

Prairie View
   Against the runner up from District 3-AA, the game was close throughout the opening half. The contest was tied twice in the opening period as Kirk led 11-9 after the opening eight minutes of play.
   Beck scored to open the second period. Prairie View responded with two straight buckets tying the game at 13-13. Kirk trailed 18-17 when they ran off seven straight points to lead 24-18 at halftime. Grantham added a three-pointer and Hudspeth scored just before the first half buzzer sounded.
   Taylor opened the third period with a three-point, giving KA a 27-18 lead. PVA scored 16 of the next 20 points to lead 34-31 at the end of three period.
   The Lady Spartans scored the first four points of the fourth period, completing a 12-0 run to lead 38-31 with 6:52 left.
   Kirk responded with a 15-0 run of its own taking advantage of mistakes from Prairie View off the Raiderettes pressure defense. Taylor had 11 of the 15 points during the run as Kirk built a 46-38 lead with 2:06 left.
   The Lady Spartans were held without a field goal for over five minutes of the contest.
Taylor led Kirk with 16 points. Grantham finished with 10 and Snyder scored eight. Beck had six and Brett Adair Kyle added four. Simmons scored two points.

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