INDEPENDENCE, Kan. - With the regular season over, the #6 seed Independence Lady Pirates took their ten-game win-streak to the Region VI Tournament hosting the #11 seed Garden City BroncBusters. It was a rather slow evening for Independence, but through perseverance and trusting each other victory was claimed 64-56 as the Lady Pirates advanced to play in Hartman Arena on Saturday.
The Lady Pirates were led by Kierra Crockett and Mychaell Gray each with 14 points, Victoria Mikkelsen with 12 points and Brittany Reeves with 10 points. Reeves also had a double-double with 13 rebounds.
"We did a nice job tonight as it's strive and survive time this time of year," coach Leslie Crane said. "We didn't shoot as well as we could have, but we did a lot of other good things forcing them into more turnovers than us and didn't fold at any point, so I'm very happy with our effort."
"The next game is Hutch on Saturday and we were a different team when we faced them earlier this season, but they're a good club at number eight in the nation. They have good shooting, ball handling, inside and outside game, but it's a neutral court this time so we have to make sure we go into the game with the right frame of mind just like we did tonight and have a full team effort."
In the first quarter, the Lady Pirates struck first with a layup by Kierra Crockett to take the early lead before a basket by Brittany Reeves pushed the lead to four, but Daz'Monique Johnson made a pair of free throws to cut the lead in half. A basket by Logan Collyer made it a four-point lead for Independence before a three-pointer by Alyssa Boyce, but two foul shots from Reeves made the score 8-5 at the 4:30 mark.
A floater from Sadie Jordan pushed the lead to five before a layup by Jaleah Bellany cut the lead to one, but a trip to the line for Mychaell Gray had the Lady Pirates back up by three. A bucket by Kierra Crockett followed by a basket from Dashanae Pajeaud made it a three-point game and Independence led 14-11 after the opening period.
The second quarter began with a jumper by Boyce to cut the lead to one before a basket for Johnson gave Garden City the lead, but Independence responded with a bucket from Crockett to regain the lead. Crockett pushed the lead to three with another score before a layup by Fatarah Kinnard took it to five, but a trip to the line for Kelcy McHenry had the score at 20-17 with 5:30 left in the first half.
A pair of free throws by Victoria Mikkelsen pushed the lead to four before layups from Talia Roberts and Taneigh Boyd cut it to one, but a score for Mikkelsen put the lead back to three. A 5-0 run for Roberts gave Garden City a two-point lead before technical shots and a layup by Gray put the Lady Pirates up by two, but a free throw by Roberts made the score 28-27 Independence to go in the locker room.
In the third quarter, a bucket from Pajeaud gave the Busters a one-point lead before a basket from Reeves and a free throw by Kinnard. Another basket for Reeves pushed the lead to four before a layup from Johnson, but a reverse layup by Crockett had the core at 35-31 at the 5:30 mark.
Two more buckets for Crockett gave Independence an eight-point lead before a basket from Deborah Ford and it the Busters seemed to be catching up before a three from Gray made it a seven-point advantage. Gray continued to shine following a Garden City free throw with a jumper before a three-point play by Bellany and the Busters inched closer with another basket from Bellany making it 46-42 at the 1:59 mark. A basket by Mikkelsen and three-point play from Kinnard pushed the lead to nine before another bucket by Kinnard and the Lady Pirates led 53-42 heading to the final minutes.
The fourth quarter began with a bucket from Roberts before a put back from Johnson and a three from Boyce cut the lead to four and Johnson continued with another bucket before a basket from Mikkelsen made the lead go to four. Johnson and Mikkelsen exchanged baskets before another three for Gray, but a free throw from Boyce made the score 60-54 with 2:00 remaining. A basket by Mikkelsen gave Independence an eight-point lead before a layup from Reeves and Garden City got a score from Boyce, but that was all as the Lady Pirates prevailed.
Independence (19-9, 13-7) advances to the Region VI Tournament Quarterfinals facing the #8 Hutchinson Blue Dragons Saturday March 2 from Hartman Arena in Park City with tipoff set for 5 pm.