BENTON -- Hamilton County's Lady Foxes came to Benton undefeated on Monday night. They left town unscathed with an 8-0 record after defeating Benton's Rangerettes 53-40.
Hamilton County outscored the Rangerettes 18-7 in the final quarter after leading by just two points at the end of the third period.
"They're one of the top two or three teams in the south. They're definitely one of the better teams we've played. They do a good job defensively. Offensively, they are efficient and they get what they want. Hopefully, playing teams like that will help us get better," said Benton coach Andy Sloan, who saw his squad dip to 2-4.
Still leading by two with just over six minutes to play, the Lady Foxes put the game out of reach with a 7-0 run to go up 45-35 under the four minute mark. One of the biggest plays of the night came when the Lady Foxes' Taylie Payne got stickback off a missed free throw. The Foxes then got three straight baskets in the paint to get the 10-point advantage.
"No one play wins or loses a game for you but I thought that really turned the table. We were one rebound away from maybe tying the game or taking the lead with a three. Instead, they get a stickback so the lead goes from two to four and we were chasing their tails after that," said Sloan.
Benton held a 14-12 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Lady Foxes got their first and last lead of 21-20 at the 4:40 mark of the second quarter on a Katherine Drone layup. The Lady Foxes extended the lead to five, 25-20, by halftime.
With two minutes remaining in the quarter, the Rangerettes chipped away at the deficit, getting the final three points of the quarter on a Kelsey Wilcox up and under layup and an Ember Milby free throw. That resulted in a Lady Foxes' lead of 35-33 heading into the final quarter.
Katherine Drone and Kaleigh Dodson led the Lady Foxes with 12 points each. Payne chipped in 10.
Mady Wallace led Benton with 23 points. No other player scored in double figures as the Rangerettes were 15-of-49 from the field and made just four three-point baskets -- two coming from Wallace. Point guard Eb Casey was shut down with just two points.
"Mady had a great game and I'm happy for her, but at the same point, we can't go 23 and then two and four. We've got to be better than that," Sloan said. "I felt like we forced some things offensively. Instead of catching the ball and running with it, we want to take that first shot the first time we touch it. We've got to show more patient and discipline."