Sweet 15

Rachel Smith shared the team lead with 15 points and also made four steals for Great Crossing on Tuesday night in a 79-42 rout of district rival Western Hills.

The palpable timidity as Great Crossing High School girls’ basketball felt its way through five losses to tip off its program’s history last month is long gone.

Since a pair of breakthrough victories in a tournament just before Christmas, GC has flaunted a smothering instinct and high-powered attack from the opening tap of every game.

Never has it been more dizzying than Tuesday night, when the Lady Warhawks scored the first 20 points in about three minutes and cruised to a 79-42 home win over Western Hills in a 41st District clash.

Six consecutive wins have vaulted Great Crossing (7-7 overall, 2-1 district) to the .500 mark on the cusp of a coveted rematch at Franklin County on Friday.

“We’ve just been playing together as a team. All these wins have been boosting our confidence,” said Braylee McMath, the lone junior starter on a squad with no seniors. “We knew we could put it together, and it’s starting to come together now. It’s going to be really exciting. We’ve got a streak going on. We’re trying to keep this thing rolling.

McMath and Rachel Smith led five GC scorers in double digits with 15 points apiece. Smith drained back-to-back 3-pointers from the left corner late in the second half to land GC a 55-27 halftime lead.

Eighth-grader Ava Schureman served up a career night with matching totals of 13 points and 13 rebounds, earning Clark’s Pump-n-Shop player of the game honors on the Birds’ Nest Broadcasting Network.

“I knew it would happen sooner or later,” Schureman said of the Lady Warhawks’ sizzling streak. “We’re getting better and better. It helps us out, because now when we play teams we can compete with, we’re better.”

Raegan Barrett added 11 points and Timothi Williams 10 to propel Great Crossing. 

Williams’ five steals — she had 12 in a win at West Jessamine last week — combined with four apiece by Smith and McMath to harass Western Hills (6-10, 0-3) into 23 turnovers.

The Lady Wolverines committed many of those in the opening avalanche, when they simply struggled to cross half court against the home team’s speed and pressure.

“That was great. I knew if we got out early on them, we had a good shot at wearing them out,” GC coach Glenn Wilson said. “I think we’re better prepared. I think we’re better as a team overall. I feel like we’re playing with a lot of confidence, playing better defensively, rebounding the ball well. We finally found our niche, what we need to do and what we can’t do.”

All five starters had scored by midway through the first quarter, staking GC to a 32-8 advantage, and each had at least nine points by the half.

The only lull was a scoreless stretch of nearly four minutes to start the fourth quarter, although some of that can be attributed to Wilson calling off the full court resistance that yielded so many easy baskets.

GC triggered the 35-point running clock for the first time this season with 7:12 remaining.

“Just start off early and put them away early,” McMath said of GC’s mission. “We all just feed off each other. We’re all real close. We get excited for one another. We all have confidence in each other, and that makes the game a lot easier.”

Maddie LeCompte, a senior guard, led all scorers with 19 points for Western Hills.

Olivia Tierney (eighth grade) and Chapel Brown (seventh) joined Schureman as middle school students in the scoring column on a GC roster that is merely scratching the surface of its long-term potential.

“The team we played today wasn’t too tall, and I’m considered tall for my age, but I’ve never gotten 13 rebounds,” Schureman said. “It’s nerve wracking at the beginning of games, because you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, what if I mess up?’ But now I’ve gotten close to the team, and they’ll help me out when I make a mistake.”

Schureman, who leads the team with more than six rebounds per game, hasn’t surprised Wilson at all.

“She does the dirty work,” he said. “Get out there and rebound. I challenge her every day. ‘I need five rebounds. I need this. I need that.’ She wants to go out there and do it. She’s hard-nosed.”

Great Crossing has averaged 81 points per game over its past five wins. Its closest loss of the season was a 49-43 verdict at home against perennial district champion Franklin County on Dec. 17.

“It’s going to be a really good game,” McMath said of the rematch, set for 6 p.m. Friday. 

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at sports@news-graphic.com.

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