Keener has second 20 plus point performance to lead Lady Knights to 30-11 victory over Hilltoppers


12 JV Lady Knights sink buckets to put TCMS over Washington Irving

PRUNTYTOWN— After a lengthy break in action for the holidays, the Taylor County Middle School (TCMS) Lady Knights Varsity basketball team was back on their home court Wednesday evening to take on the Washington Irving (WI) Hilltoppers.

For the second time this season, eighth grade Lady Knight Kenna Keener would tally more than 20 points, leading TCMS to a 30-11 victory.

After turning over their first possession of the game, the contest got off to a rather slow start for the Lady Knights, however, they were able to remain solid on the defensive end and pull ahead 6-0 by the end of the first frame.

In the paint for TCMS, Kaylee Cross tallied four defensive rebounds in the first half, while Keener and Alyssa Jackson were also working off the glass to pull down the rebound at both ends of the court, not giving WI any second point opportunities. 

The trio of Cross, Keener and Jackson also led the  team on the offensive end in the first quarter, with each knocking in a basket. 

Despite their tough defense and rebounding frenzy, TCMS struggled to connect with the bottom of the net only recording five field goals and a lone free throw during the opening half. 

The Lady Knights, being led on the defensive end of things, took an 11-0 advantage into the break. 

“We were a little sluggish to start,” noted Head Coach Bobby Beltner. “But we hadn’t played a game in three weeks. I thought as the game went on, we played better.”

Getting back into the swing of things, the Lady Knights came out of the locker room visibly displaying a hustle that hadn’t been seen in the first half and slowing their pace on the offensive end. 

The Hilltoppers, would also have a better showing in the second, earning their first points off a fast break layup with 3:32 left in the third. 

With 2:11 left in the third, WI Hilltopper Jada Sutherlin connected with a triple hoping to spark a run for her team. 

TCMS would turn over their next possession, and the Hilltoppers would break away for the easy layup, bringing the score to 16-7.

Lady Knight Sophie Austin would then stretch the TCMS lead back out to 12, knocking in a three of her own. 

Other than Austin’s three, the remainder of the TCMS points over the final minutes of play came from Keener. 

The second half saw Keener pick up the intensity and force WI to commit the foul, as she was a driving force to the basket attacking the glass. 

Over the final two quarters, she made nine trips to the free throw line, going 8 of 15. She also recorded six field goals during the third and fourth quarters, finishing the contest as lead scorer with 22 points on the game. 

“I’m very happy with the girls’ effort,” Beltner voiced. 

The win moves the Lady Knight to 5-1 on the season. 

The TCMS JV Lady Knights also met with WI. This would be their second meeting on the season, with the previous matchup just a week prior during a holiday tournament at Lincoln, where the JV Lady Knights dominated the floor and took the 22-1 victory. 

This meeting would be much of the same, with the young TCMS ladies owning the court and dominating the scoring. 

The JV Lady Knights ran away with the contest early, taking a 13-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. 

Playing their zone defense, the Lady Knights forced the Hilltoppers out of the paint and challenged every shot. 

With fast feet and smart hands, Paislee Freeman, Liya Clemm and Lydia Wildrout all forced turnovers. 

The Lady Knights went the length of the game contesting every shot, and not allowing WI a single field goal once again. 

The Hilltoppers’ only points would come at the foul line with 5:34 remaining in the second quarter. 

Bethany Howe was able to knock down both attempts to put WI on the board before the break, with a 23-2 score.

TCMS continued to find the basket and extended their lead after the half. During the final quarter five different Lady Knights added to the score, including a beautifully banked in three from the hands of Alyssa Larry. 

The team played a selfless game, with excellent ball movement and made some smart passes, allowing nearly every Lady Knight on the JV roster to record at least one bucket. 

The TCMS JV Lady Knights were led in scoring by Rory Stevens with eight. 

The JV Lady Knights took the lopsided 45-2 victory and moved to 4-2 on the season. 

“Our Junior Varsity team is getting better each time out,” Beltner shared. “We have some things to clean up, but I am happy with the way the girls are working both in practice and in games.”

Inclement weather canceled the program’s contests that were scheduled for Thursday evening at Mountaineer Middle. That contest has since been rescheduled and will now be played on Thursday, January 13. But first the Lady Knights will travel to R.L. Bland on Tuesday, January 11. 

Varsity scoring stats: Sophie Austin: 3PT-1, TP-3; Kenna Keener: FG- 7, FT-8/15, TP-22; Kaylee Cross: FG-1, TP-2; Alyssa Jackson: FG-1, FT-1/2, TP: 3.

JV scoring stats: Ruby Larew (2), Bailey Satterfield (5), Paislee Freeman (4), Arabella Jones (2), Peyton Stevens (4), Lydia Wildrout (2), Ashley Smith (4), Rory Stevens (8), Liya Clemm (3), Jordan Cox (2), Alyssa Larry (5), Cassie Vincent (4)

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