Into the blue sky

Rachel Smith of Great Crossing fights through a triple-team from Iroquois to get off a shot in the first quarter Saturday against Iroquois.

The stage was set when Braylee McMath and Timothi Williams slashed to the Great Crossing girls' basketball rim through an open lane that could have accommodated a semi truck early in Saturday afternoon’s home contest.

To a lesser degree, similar drives by Destiny Thompson and Aria Moore of Iroquois at the other end of the court sprinkled gasoline on the fire.

Offense would monopolize the spotlight over defense in an environment fit for getting the post-Christmas lead out. GC took advantage by setting a school record for points in a game that might stand for a while (yes, admittedly after only 10 games), lowering the boom on its visitors from Louisville, 95-64.

“We'll take that. It's a good thing we're playing somebody like that tonight, because we did a lot of stuff we shouldn't have done,” GC coach Glenn Wilson said. “Any time you put up 95 points, you've got to be happy about that. It will build up some of the kids, some of their confidence. Down the stretch we're going to need them to step up. They have to be there.”

Only the wide margin on the scoreboard prevented McMath from tallying a triple-double. The flashy junior point guard amassed 22 points, seven assists, seven steals and five rebounds for the Lady Warhawks (3-7).

“She does a lot. She's a beast out there,” Wilson said of McMath. “She's probably in the best shape she's ever been in. She gets us going. She's our   general.”

Williams wound up with 14 points and five steals. Raegan Barrett (19), Olivia Tierney (10) and Leila Custard (10) all established new personal highs in the scoring column.

Destiny Thompson set the pace for Iroquois (4-7) with 34 points. Makazia Swan added 20 to the feast-or-famine effort for the Lady Raiders, who fueled the Lady Warhawks' transition game with 23 turnovers.

Half-court defense for GC was more indicative of a team that was returning from a 12-day layoff after splitting its four games in the Traditional Bank Holiday Classic at Lexington Catholic.

“Exactly what we looked like, so this was a good warm-up for us, what we needed,” Wilson said. “I told them on the scouting report, all they do is put their head down and drive. We've got to get better at (stopping) that. We've got to be more consistent. We've got to put all four quarters together, offensively and defensively.”

Great Crossing never trailed and was on pace to hit the century mark after a 26-14 opening quarter. Williams' back-to-back drives triggered an early 6-0 surge. Custard's steal and an outlet pass from Hailey Ward to Tierney capped a flurry of five consecutive points in the final minute.

Thompson's twin 3-pointers inched Iroquois within four points, 26-22, to start the second stanza before Barrett and McMath combined for six straight points.

Sometimes out-sized in the paint against a brutal schedule in the opening month of the season, Great Crossing exploited its edge there against Iroquois. 

Barrett was 9-for-13 from the field. The Lady Warhawks dominated the glass by a 52-31 margin.

“I think the schedule we played, especially at the beginning, it will prepare us from here on out. It gets a little easier as it goes. We have a tough one here and there, like Scott County, but I think this will balance it up a little bit,” Wilson said. “The only problem now is we've got to keep the kids playing at our level, not to the level of the team we're playing.”

Emma Boehm and Kaylee Ray continued GC's collaborative approach with nine points to close the third period, inflating the Lady Warhawks' halftime lead from 45-28 to 66-49. 

That was already one field goal better than the previous Great Crossing high-water point total for an entire game.

Custard, Tierney and Ava     Schureman canned four 3-pointers between them in the fourth.

“We worked a lot,” Wilson said of GC's productive recess. “We took four days off for Christmas, then came back and practiced four straight days. They had a little time off with family, then came back.”

The grind resumes Tuesday night with a pivotal 41st District home game against Frankfort. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. on the Birds' Nest Broadcasting Network.

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

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