By LARRY HYPES
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
TAZEWELL, Va. —
Mackenley Davis must have known it was Groundhog Day.
The sharpshooting Richlands guard kept doing the same thing — making three point shots — and fired in 22 points lead the Lady Blues to a 54-37 Southwest District triumph over homestanding Tazewell Friday.
Davis hit six of Richlands’ 11 treys as RHS bolted to a 12-0 advantage and never trailed in the inter-county rivalry.
Richlands (14-2, 4-1) took advantage of the Lady Dogs’ (12-8, 4-2) cold shooting to maintain the edge although THS made a big run after halftime to dramatically close the gap before a big crowd on senior night.
That late dash was not quite enough to bounce back from a Lady Dog beginning nearly as cold as the below-freezing temperature after a county day out of school. Tazewell missed 27 first half shots including 18 of the first 20.
“We didn’t do too many things well for much of this game,” said disappointed Dog mentor Jason Southworth. “You can’t miss much against a good team like Richlands and get by with it. We left too many shooters wide open. It was a tough loss.”
Davis and Brittney Allen (18) combined for 40 to pace the Richlands attack as only four Lady Blues scored in the pressure-packed showdown.
Both teams were misfiring but the Lady Blues, who missed nearly two out of every three shots in the opening half — and “3” was the key — made their treys.
Richardson put RHS ahead and then Makenley Davis drilled in back-back shots from downtown. Richlands led 9-0, then 12-0 at the 2:25 mark of the opening stanza before Whitney Saunders dropped in a pair of free throws to put Tazewell on the board on the next series.
Down 22-12 at the break, Tazewell finally made a run in an up-tempo third quarter led by Haley Christian’s shooting and the floor play of Saunders and Taylor Catron, combined with the inside work of Autumn Hash.
Catron said, “We came out a little slow and nervous. Richlands just took advantage of our mistakes and made the most of their opportunities. We came back in a big way in the second half but they would not let us get the upper hand.”
Christian’s three-pointer with 4:08 left in the third period cut the RHS advantage to three points, 27-24.
Davis then drilled in a three-point shot, Richardon dropped in a pair of free throws, and Davis yet again fired in another trey to extend Richlands’ lead to 10 points , 38-28, heading into the fourth period.
“We really prepared hard for this game,” grinned Davis. “I was trying to hit some threes. That’s my main focus during the year and I wanted to help get us going. We really wanted to get a win here against Tazewell in the battle for the district.”
Christian bombed in a trio of treys herself, leading THS with 13 points and Saunders chipped in with 10 more including a 4-for-5 effort at the foul line. Richlands took care of business at the line in fine fashion, hitting a sizzling13-of-16 at the line.
“Getting off to a good start was very important and it never hurts to jump out to a 12-0 lead,” laughed Lady Blue coach Dennis Palmer.
“Tonight was quite a turnaround from a game earlier this week — we couldn’t shoot a boat into the water in that one. Brittney (Allen) came on and played well for us in the second half. She knows what it takes and we count on her to make those plays.”
Richlands hosts district foe Carroll County Monday, and Tazewell travels to Abingdon Tuesday for another SWD game.
At Tazewell Middle School
RICHLANDS (13-2, 3-1)
Montana Hearl 5, Makenley Davis 22, Cassidy Richardson 9, Brittney Allen 18.
TAZEWELL (12-7, 3-1)
Whitney Saunders 10, Taylor Catron 6, Kate Snapp 2, Autumn Hash 4, Haley Christian 13, Kaley Holloway 2.
Richlands........13 9 16 16 — 54
Tazewell............5 7 16 9 — 37
Three-point goals — RIC 11 (Davis 6, Allen 3, Hearl 1, Richardson 1); TAZ 5 (Christian 3, Saunders 2). Fouled out — none.