Eighth-grade sensation

Ava Schureman scored eight points in the first quarter to get Great Crossing off to a flying start Tuesday agianst Frankfort.

Probably it’s no coincidence for Great Crossing girls’ basketball that as freshman forward Raegan Barrett’s offensive repertoire continues to evolve, the Lady Warhawks’ offense is in a serious growth cycle, as well.

Three days after Barrett bagged a career-high 19 points in a school-record scoring attack of 95 against Iroquois, she smashed that with 23 and vaulted GC to an 87-53 home win over Frankfort in a 41st District showdown Tuesday.

Great Crossing (4-7 overall, 1-1 district) grabbed its third consecutive victory, all by double digits.

“It’s just hard work in practice,” Barrett said. “It’s been a lot harder in practice than games for us. (Coach Glenn Wilson) pushes us hard, so it helps us get better.”

For the second straight outing, Barrett — named Galvin’s player of the game on the Birds’ Nest Broadcasting Network — was one of five Lady Warhawks in double digits.

Braylee McMath was a typical nuisance at both ends of the floor. She finished with 21 points, eight steals and six assists while containing Frankfort’s leading scorer on the season, Tianna Mitchell, to 14.

“I think our defense kind of frustrated her,” Wilson said of Mitchell. “She’s used to doing whatever. Braylee did a real good job defending her.”

Hailey Ward scored 10 of her 12 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers, to go with five rebounds. 

Timothi Williams tallied eight of her 11 points in the opening period, when GC ripped open a 26-13 lead. That grew to 48-29 at halftime on the strength of 13 points from Barrett in the second stanza.

“I told (Barrett) tonight if she could run the floor, she’d get a lot of baskets,” Wilson said. “I’ve been telling her that all year. Just run the floor.”

Her first-half attack was a combination of baby hooks, second-chance layups, and two-on-one run-outs after steals by McMath.

“If I don’t run the floor, I don’t get rebounds,” Barrett said, echoing her coach. “I like to get rebounds and get points.”

Ava Schureman matched Williams with eight points in the first quarter and wound up with 10 to go with a team-high seven rebounds for Great Crossing.

Jamaya Chenault was the primary thorn in GC’s side. Difficult to stop when she generated a full head of steam off the dribble or caught the ball with her back to the basket in the low post, Chenault led Frankfort (9-4, 1-1) with 21 points.

“When she got inside, it was tough. We couldn’t get around her,” Wilson said. “We got a couple stops, sometimes, but when she got in there, she would back us in, and there was nothing we could do.”

That wasn’t enough to prevent a wire-to-wire win for Great Crossing, which was touted as No. 5 in the 11th Region by one prominent rating system entering this week’s games. 

Williams, Schureman and Rachel Smith combined to hit four of the Lady Warhawks’ first five attempts from 3-point range. GC went 9-of-25 from deep on the evening while holding Frankfort to a pair of long-range strikes, both in the second quarter.

Since allowing 68 or more points in six of its seven losses against a challenging schedule, Great Crossing has surrendered an average of 49 on its current winning streak. 

“If we just play solid defense and stop trying to gamble all the time, we’ll be fine,” Wilson said. “Every time we kind of gamble and get ourselves out of position, we struggle with that, big time. But offense is clicking now.”

McMath padded the lead with 10 points in the third quarter, giving Great Crossing a 70-41 lead with eight minutes to play.

Leila Custard’s five points combined with Ward’s outburst in the fourth, but the Lady Warhawks couldn’t quite reach their record clip from the weekend.

Ward’s work on the boards and from the free-throw line was also integral to the first-half getaway by Great Crossing. She has looked more comfortable on the court since requesting a move out of the starting lineup earlier in the season.

“I think she’s good coming off the bench, sixth man,” Wilson said. “I think it builds her confidence. She’s more energized. I don’t know why.”

Ward and McMath are the only juniors on a team with no seniors that continues to gain confidence by leaps and bounds.

GC lost by only six points to perennial champion Franklin County in its only previous district game.

“We had to take care of business, definitely had to. It was a good district win,” Wilson said. “Our goal was to come out and win each quarter. We won each quarter, and I’m pleased with the win.”

The Lady Warhawks will hit the road this weekend to face two opponents with non-winning records, West Jessamine and Woodford County, before a district double against Western Hills (Tuesday) and Franklin County (Friday) next week.

“I think we just need to keep doing what we’re doing,” Barrett said.

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

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