RACELAND Big things come in small packages.
For East Carter on Sunday night in the third-place game of the Ryan Keeton eXp Realty Ohio River Classic, that package was barely over 5 feet tall.
Junior point guard Halle Swanagan made it rain inside the Palace like the flooding waters that filled the nearby Ohio River with a game-high 19 points to lead the Lady Raiders to a 75-56 win over the host Lady Rams.
“Up to the last couple games, she’s had a really good shooting season,” East Carter coach Jeff Damron said. “You just aren’t going to knock them all down. A couple games she was off, but she came back tonight and just kept on playing. That’s the way Halle needs to play.”
Swanagan did not miss often. She hit 6 of 8 shots launched from beyond the arc while not missing in the second half. Swanagan nailed four in the third quarter, including back-to-back triples to close the frame for a 63-41 lead. She added one more in the fourth.
“Those are few and far between,” Damron said of Swanagan’s special night. “I think I maybe had one in my career. It’s pretty weird when a coach tells you to just keep shooting. But keep shooting in the rhythm of the game. It’s learning the game and learning the process.”
Swanagan was named MVP of the game.
East Carter wasted little time jumping on Raceland, as a quick 6-0 run and four Lady Rams turnovers caused coach Ron Keeton to burn his first timeout of the game. By the end of the first quarter, East Carter had forced nine total turnovers and led 26-16. Playing without point guard Whitney Lute, who suffered a knee injury midway through the month, Raceland (4-6) struggled to handle the East Carter pressure much of the night.
“We are just trying to figure out where to put people in places to be successful without Whitney there,” Keeton said. “Everybody has to play a different role and has to do things they hadn’t previously had to do. When you are playing that kind of pressure, it’s really hard.”
East Carter (8-3) forced a total of 23 turnovers in the contest.
“That’s probably the best we’ve looked in transition in the first quarter all season,” Damron said.
Alyssa Stickler got things going late in the second quarter after a three-ball made it 33-16. But the Lady Rams responded with a 7-0 run capped off by a Sierra Maynard trey to cut the deficit to 10 with 2:10 to go in the half. Maynard sank a pair of free throws to pull the Lady Rams to within eight but a Markita Gamsby bucket before the break pushed the margin back to 10 for the Lady Raiders.
“We battled and would claw back and seemed like every time we got close to them, they would drain a 3,” Keeton said. “I was really proud of our effort. As bad as the first quarter was, we kept battling and had it down to 10 at the half. Credit to East. They shot the 3 well.”
Extremely well might be a better description, going 11 of 19 from downtown. Stickler was 7 of 10 from the field and 3 of 4 from 3 while netting 17.
“When we have shooters like Halle, Haley (Campbell) and Alyssa knocking down shots on the outside, it really opens up the middle,” Damron said. “When we start doing that and we start getting the inside game, we can give teams a lot of trouble.”
Jascie Greene took advantage of that facet of the game with 11 points off the bench, including seven in the first half.
“Last few games, she is one that has really turned it around,” Damron said of Greene. “She took a year off and she just needs game time.”
Emma Picklesimer led the Lady Rams with 13 points. Emilee Garvin had 12. Chloe Collins netted nine while grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds.
E.CARTER 26 12 25 12 — 75
RACELAND 16 12 16 12 — 56
East Carter (75) — Bush 3, Campbell 7, Gallion 4, Gamsby 2, Greene 11, Hall 3, Marcum 2, Moore 3, Steele 2, Stickler 17, Swanagan 19, Tussey 2, J. Waggoner, M. Waggoner. 3-Pt. FG: 11 (Swanagan 6, Stickler 3, Campbell, Moore). FT: 6-11. Fouls: 16.
Raceland (56) — Hapney 2, Flocker, Picklesimer 13, Mackie, Garvin 12, Smith 7, Maynard 9, Hackworth 2, Collins 9, Gartin. 3-Pt. FG: 5 (Maynard 2, Collins, Smith, Garvin). FT: 11-16. Fouls: 7.
Heritage (Tenn.) 68 Meade County 56
Rick Howard has felt right at home both times he has brought his Lady Mountaineers to the Ohio River Classic at Raceland. Nearly 300 miles and over 4 hours from home, one might be caught off-guard to see the following supporting the red-and-white-clad team from Maryville, Tennessee.
The funny part was, many of the supporters were wearing orange and black, and no, it was not Lady Rams fans. It was Ironton fans who came to support the legendary coach who planted his roots across the river.
“My old coach, coach (Mike) Burcham from Ironton, he’s a legend over there and he got to come tonight,” Howard said after pictures and hugs from a group of around 20. “That just makes my heart warm. Seeing all my old friends, they think enough of me to come over here and watch my girls compete. It’s just a privilege, because that’s where I learned everything in my life to get me where I’m at today.”
Those in attendance of the tournament championship needed to keep their head on a swivel to keep up with the pace of the Lady Mountaineers racing away from the Lady Waves.
Trailing by double figures most of the way, Meade County made one final surge midway through the fourth quarter when the Lady Waves trimmed the deficit to 56-50. The Lady Mountaineers responded with a 9-2 run to once again push the game out of reach.
Heritage placed four players in double figures, with Cleveland State commit Emma Harig’s 22 points leading the way. Lexi Patty kicked in 14. Katlin Burger added 12. Halle Waters had 11.
Heritage had seven of its nine players who saw court time finish with points.
Kendall Wingler led Meade County with a game-high 31 points while going 10 of 11 from the charity stripe. The state’s leading scorer at 32.5 per contest also broke the Meade County all-time scoring record in the first half.
MEADE CO. 11 13 17 15 — 56
HERITAGE 18 19 14 17 — 68
Meade County (56) — Hardesty 1, Aebersold, Clanton, Bradley 3, Griffin 10, Martin, Gallimore 11, Wingler 31. 3-Pt. FG: 7 (Wingler 3, Gallimore 3, Bradley). FT: 12-19.
Heritage (68) — Waters 11, Davis 5, Harig 20, Jones 2, Varitek, Burger 12, French, Gardner 2, Patty 14. 3-Pt. FG: 4 (Patty, Harig, Davis, Waters). FT: 711.