EAGLE TRAP: Austin’s Megan Smith (2) looks to pass around a two-man trap of Southwestern’s Cass Lawson (left) and Cheyenne McKinley Thursday night in Hanover. Smith scored a team-high 18 points in the Eagles’ win while Lawson had eight points and eight assists. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
EAGLE TRAP: Austin’s Megan Smith (2) looks to pass around a two-man trap of Southwestern’s Cass Lawson (left) and Cheyenne McKinley Thursday night in Hanover. Smith scored a team-high 18 points in the Eagles’ win while Lawson had eight points and eight assists. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
Class 2A No. 9 Austin shot nearly 60 percent from the field - outscoring Southwestern 30-16 at the start and 36-22 at the finish - and it took every bit of that to turn back the Lady Rebels on Thursday night in Hanover.

Austin, now 10-3 with a visit by Class 3A No. 5 Madison looming on Saturday, looked like it might run the Lady Rebels out of their own gym by getting off to a 6-0 start and then putting Southwestern down 30-16 with 6:29 left in the first half.

But coach Kenny Garrett's Rebels battled back over the final six minutes of the first half and then made a game of it in the third quarter before the Lady Eagles finally wore Southwestern down in the stretch.

The biggest problem for Southwestern was shooting. The Rebels took nine more shots than the Eagles but hit nine fewer field goals in an otherwise statistically dead heat. Southwestern made 21-of-60 from the field (35 percent) to Austin's 30-of-51 (58.8 percent) and that difference proved fatal for the Rebels in the end.

"We missed a lot of shots but they were all good shots with the exception of a couple here and there," Garrett said of his 3-12 Rebels. "I mean we had Morgan Mahoney 1-for-10 and Cheyenne McKinley 2-for-13 and those were on shots they normally knock down.

"But what more can I ask for?" Garrett said. "We got down 30-16 and at that point it could have ended up a 72-40 game or something like that but we fought back and even took a one-point lead so I'm happy with how we never quit."

Trailing by a game-high 14 points early in the second quarter, Southwestern went on a 21-8 run to close out the first half trailing 38-37 and then scored on a lay-up by Kamille Brawner off an assist by Cass Lawson just 44 seconds into the second half for the Rebels' only lead of the game at 39-38 with 7:16 left in the third.

The big rally was fueled by scrappy defense - the Rebels out-rebounded the Eagles along with disrupting Austin's passing lanes - and a big second quarter by Savannah Hubbard.

Hubbard, a 5-foot-7 senior forward, scored 10 of her team-high 18 points in the second quarter - including a pair of 3-pointers - en route to a 14-point first half. Southwestern also got five points off the bench from Debbie Hardy and four more by Lawson in the rally.

"Savannah Hubbard is capable of doing that day-in and day-out," Garrett said. "If she gets that first 3-pointer to go, she's normally on and she was on tonight. For the most part shooting is all a mindset."

Meanwhile, the Rebel defense was keeping Austin's high-scoring senior, Jessie Davidson, in check in the first half. Davidson, a 5-foot-7 guard who averages about 18 points per game, managed just a single field goal by halftime before breaking loose for 10 points in the second half.

"We held her in check in the first half but Davidson had her way with us in the second half," Garrett noted.

Austin also capitalized on several Southwestern defensive breakdowns in the second half. The Rebels used their guards to penetrate the Austin defense, attack the basket and help out on the boards and while that produced dividends when it worked, it was occasionally an even bigger liability when it didn't.

Austin capitalized in transition by releasing a player downcourt to get ahead of the Southwestern defense and cherry pick layups on runouts.

"We don't teach that so we don't like seeing that happen but they were sending a flyer on just about every play and we didn't always get back to defend that," Garrett said.

Garrett noted that part of the problem is that the Rebels simply wore down as the game wore on. With senior guard Sydnie McKinley out for the season with a torn ACL and junior forward Austin Courtney out going on two weeks with a bad ankle, the Rebels were just too thin to put up much more fight against the deeper Eagles.

"It hurts us having them out," Garrett said of McKinley and Courtney. "We could have used three or four more people tonight. I think I played six tonight and I had five on the floor a lot of the time who were sucking gas. But that's just what we've got to do right now and when I exert all the energy that I do on the sideline, I expect the same from them on the floor."

The Eagles answered the Rebel lead change with a 12-6 run and then weathered one more Southwestern charge late in the third quarter - the Rebels cut the margin to 54-52 at the close of the period - before steadily pulling away in the final quarter.

In addition to Hubbard's 18 points and five rebounds, Southwestern got 16 points and six rebounds from Hardy and 11 points by Brawner. Lawson scored eight points and had a game-high eight assists. The totals were career highs for all four players.

Austin was led by Megan Smith's 18 points and four assists while Brenna Riley (14), Holli Reynolds (13) and Davidson (12) all reached double figures.

Reynolds, a 5-foot-9 sophomore who grew up in Jefferson County and played AAU ball with teams from Madison as a youth, also had eight rebounds in her 19-plus minutes off the bench.

Southwestern, now losers of five straight dating back to a 49-39 win over South Ripley on Dec. 17, remains hungry for a win to end its current skid and Garrett thinks that will come sooner rather than later because the team is playing better each time out.

"I think it started with the Silver Creek game in the Rumble. We didn't win but our effort was excellent in that game," Garrett said. "I was looking the other day and the combined record of our opponents is something like 97-61 - that's in the top 10 in the state in terms of toughest schedule - so we're going to get another win one of these days and hopefully we'll turn that corner Tuesday at Christian Academy."

Garrett also likes what he saw from his team Thursday night against one of the better teams in Class 2A - especially since Austin is a potential sectional opponent.

"I could see a lot out there tonight that we can utilize down the road - especially for Austin if we should meet them in the tourney and I think there's a good chance we will," Garrett said. "I've seen a lot of things we can do against them and a lot of things we can't."

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THURSDAY'S GIRLS GAME

at Hanover

2A No. 9 AUSTIN 74, SOUTHWESTERN 61



AUSTIN 26 12 16 20 - 74

SOUTHWESTERN 16 21 15 9 - 61



AUSTIN (10-3) - (g)Smith 18, (f)Riley 14, Reynolds 13, (g)Davidson 12, (g)Mace 6, (c)Oeffinger 6, Embry 5, Jefferies 0, Hollan 0, Turner 0.

SOUTHWESTERN (3-12) - (f)Hubbard 18, Hardy 16, (g)Brawner 11, (g)Lawson 8, (f)C. McKinley 6, (c)Mahoney 2.



3-Point Goals - Austin 3 (Smith 2, Embry 1), Southwestern 6 (Hubbard 2, Hardy 2, C. McKinley 2). Free Throws - Austin 11-17 (64.7%), Southwestern 13-16 (81.3%). Total Fouls - Austin 13, Southwestern 13. Fouled Out - None. Rebounds - Austin 34 (Reynolds 8), Southwestern 30 (Hardy 6). Turnovers - Austin 20, Southwestern 17. Assists - Austin 13 (Smith 4, Davidson 4), Southwestern 10 (Lawson 8). Next Game - Austin hosts Madison Saturday, Southwestern visits Christian Academy Tuesday.