ELLINWOOD, Kan. The Ellinwood girls were supposed to enjoy their Homecoming as heavy favorites back on Jan. 10. Instead, snow delays pushed the big date to Friday as the Lady Eagles played host to Lyons. Things worked out for most of the game, but the Lady Lions put together a big comeback to spoil Homecoming with a 43-37 win.
Ellinwood took a 7-4 lead with 3:18 to play in the first quarter on a 3-pointer from Mya Maxwell. The Lady Eagles went on to lead 22-15 at the half and clung to a 31-30 lead after three quarters.
The Lady Lions made their big move in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Janessa Jaime swished a three with 5:41 remaining to give Lyons the lead at 33-31. The Lyons offense that struggled to just 15 points at the half fired in 28 points in the final two quarters.
“We just ran what we’d talked about in practice,” said Lady Lion coach BJ Smith. “The first half, we came out and we were amped up and excited. We had all that energy. When the press tries to make you play slow but you have all that energy, sometimes you’re playing faster than the press allows. After we calmed down we played well.”
Ellinwood pulled to within one at 35-34 on an offensive board from Daphne Doll that led to points from Allison McReynolds. Junior Ashtin Klepper later tied the game at 35 with a free throw.
Lyons’ three-sport standout Kristina Head answered with a baseline jumper, then Jaime added a giant dagger with a long two to give the Lady Lions a 39-35 lead late in the game. She scored seven of her nine points in the second half.
“(Janessa has) been really solid for us,” Smith said. “The last couple of games she was down and we talked about that and how defense leads to offense. She’s our steals leader. I talked about how playing hard on defense would turn into offense and that’s what happened tonight. She played really hard on defense on top, and even down low sometimes she was our third person in our zone.”
Down the stretch, Liberty Belote added a putback and Head sank a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left. Head and Belote, both listed at six-foot, combined for 20 rebounds and a handful of big blocks.
“They were huge,” said Smith. “I felt like tonight, anytime they drove we were okay. I knew those two down low would take care of it. Those two played so well.”
Maxwell hit a pair of three and scored 10 first-quarter points as Ellinwood jumped out to an 11-6 lead. She battled foul trouble later but still finished with a team-high 15 points. McReynolds came off the bench to add eight points and six rebounds for Ellinwood, and Doll grabbed seven boards to go with her four points.
Despite a quiet second quarter, Head still led all players with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Jaime added nine points for Lyons, Belote finished with eight points, and Kayleigh Arriola scored seven points.