By James Cook, Times Editor
It did not come easy, but the Lady Pirates opened their season with a big win. Powell played a larger Jackson County team, but a double threat inside made up of Kendra McFarland and Stevie Rogers made the difference. Powell captured a 51-42 win.
The Lady Pirates spent most of the first quarter playing catch up as the Lady Generals’ Jessica Bowling and Jessica Lanagin came ready to play. The visitors took advantage of their size and good ball movement to take a 13-8 lead. The Lady Pirates fought back in the second quarter by going on a 9-2 run. Megan Boswell tied the game with a baseline jumper and Rogers helped her team take the lead with a steal and a layup. Powell now held a 17-15 lead and held on to enjoy a 22-18 advantage at the half.
The second half became an old fashioned barn burner. Jackson picked up the pace early in the third quarter. A put back shot by Megan Carpenter and a 10 foot jumper by Chelsea Cunigan put the Lady Generals ahead 24-22. But Powell’s Meghan Mays nailed a three pointer, the defensive specialist’s only points of the night, gave the Lady Pirates back the lead at 25-24.
Powell extended that lead to six points, 34-28, but missed free throws and turnovers forced by physical play, gave the visitors some life. Jackson County regained the lead at the buzzer when Lanagin popped a trey to give the Lady Generals a 35-34 lead going into the final frame.
The first five minutes of the fourth quarter was like a prize fight, with both sides standing toe-to-toe and trading points. McFarland and Rogers continued to make their shots inside, as Kelly Gibson added a much needed jumper. Taylor Atkinson then nailed four-of-five free throws down the stretch, as foul trouble depleted the Jackson County lineup. Powell grabbed the 51-42 win.
McFarland and Rogers each poured in 18 points. Seven Lady Pirates got into the scoring column, including eighth grader Tristan Curtis who came in and added a much needed spark in the second half. Powell was 16-of-27 from the charity stripe for 59 percent. That included an unofficial 10-for-11 streak in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. The Lady Generals were led by Bowling with 15 points in the losing cause.
“Kendra McFarland’s 18 points broke the 1,500 point career total mark for her. Kendra’s been a key player for us since her middle school days,” Powell coach Ken Jones said after the game.” I hope we can have a very successful season for her in her final year, as well as for the other seniors. They’ve accomplished a lot, and we want them to go out on a winning note.”
As for the keys to the game, Jones was pleased in at least one area of the Lady Pirates play. “ Clutch free throws, hitting 9 of 10 in the last quarter, pulled us through, but poor shooting from outside all night ( 1 for 11 on 3’s) against Jackson County’s zone almost did us in,” he said. “I don’t know if it was opening night jitters or what, but we didn’t knock down the shots that we normally hit. We’ve got to improve on that, and on setting the pace of the game. We wanted a much faster tempo than the way it played out. The Lady Generals had two games under their belt coming in, and that experience helped them.”
Jones hopes the team got those “jitters” out of their system. “We’re young and we’re learning, so we’ll have a much better performance next time out,” he added. “We’d better, with three time defending champion and top-rated Breathitt County coming in Friday night.”
The JV Lady Pirates had no problem with their Jackson County counterparts. Powell jumped out to a 32-0 lead, with the Lady Generals only scoring four points in the first half. Powell rolled to the 59-14 win behind 17 points from Erica Rogers. Stephanie Knox came off the bench to pour in 15 and Keely Rogers tossed in 11, as the eighth grade trio led the way.
Powell will play the Lady Cats on Friday. Game time is set for 6 and 7:30 p.m. After a road trip to play Owsley County on Monday, they will return home to host West Jessamine on Dec. 18.