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Free throws seal BHS girls win

With tight defense most of the way and a point guard’s dead-eye free throw shooting adding 10 points late, it was a successful opening night for Bearden varsity girls basketball.

Jai-Jai McLaughlin, Lady Bulldogs sophomore point, went 10-of-10 from the free throw line during the final 5:43, as Bearden whipped Science Hill 48-36 at BHS Thursday, Nov. 19.

“The defense was excellent, and it was just an overall good effort, especially for the first game,” BHS head coach Nathan Hodges said, adding about McLaughlin’s game-high 16 points, “Jai-Jai did a nice job at the end sealing it for us.”

Going 12-of-14 at the line for the game, McLaughlin said of her free throw shooting, “I’ve been working on it over the summer and in the previous season … because a lot of our games [last season] came down to clutch free throws.”

Tied 31-31 after three quarters, McLaughlin and the Lady Bulldogs’ defense clamped down extra hard late, allowing just two SHHS points the final 5:54.

Shayla McDaniel, BHS senior forward known for her excellent defense, scored seven of her 14 points in the first half as Bearden led 23-18 at halftime.

“Shayla’s been coming on,” Hodges said. “Now I think she’s starting to put her offensive game with her defense.”

Senior post Ellen Smith finished with 10 points. “I thought Ellen did a nice job shutting down whoever she was guarding inside, they were ineffective,” Hodges said. “She was able to stay out of foul trouble and neutralize the paint.”

Mallory Uekman, junior guard, hit two huge 17-foot corner jumpers in the first half to help BHS build momentum.

“I thought Mary-Mc Alexander did a great job in the second half on defense,” Hodges said about his starting junior guard, who scored two points while adding three big first-half steals, two leading to fast breaks lay-ups.

About her first-ever varsity start, Alexander said, “It’s a great experience, and the nerves will kill you, but you just have to overcome that and play the best that you can, and do it for your team.”

Leslie Sayers scored two.


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