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Mikayla Hustle

Guard’s gritty play powers Lady Mountaineers to overtime win
Heritage senior Mikayla Hutsell lays one in off the break during Friday’s overtime win over William Blount. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

She wasn’t shooting the netting off the rim just yet.

William Blount's Amber Click defends Heritage's Leah Thomas.

William Blount’s Amber Click defends Heritage’s Leah Thomas.

With William Blount’s lead at nine early in the third, Mikayla Hutsell – diving for loose balls, defending tough on the baseline — was just out there scrapping.

That’s when you knew.

Heritage roared back when Hutsell got hot soon after, and the homestanding Lady Mountaineers caught and eventually went by their rivals for a 55-49 overtime win on Friday.

Scoreless in the opening half, Hutsell pumped in 16 over the final two quarters and overtime to lead all scorers. Three consecutive 3s to close the third all but erased William Blount’s nine-point edge, the Lady Governor lead reduced to 35-32 to start the fourth.

“I just wanted beat William Blount my last time playing them at home,” Hutsell said.

Leah Thomas and Maddie Sutton finished with 12 each for Heritage (8-1, 2-1 District 4AAA), which pulled clear in overtime on the strength of 7-of-13 free-throw shooting. Kassi Knight, 3-of-5 from the line in the extra session, finished with 10.

Libby Gardner, whose two free throws at the 2:08 mark of overtime were the winning margin, finished five points and a team-best four assists.

Amber Click was the lone Lady Governor to reach double figures with 13, but don’t be misled. William Blount came at Heritage in waves, Lady Governor coach Todd Wright making liberal use of a deep bench. Eight Lady Governors put their name in the score sheet, with super freshman Lexi Campos following Click with eight.

Lindsey Roddy and Bailey Ritter finished with five each, MiKayla Combs and Abby Sunshine four apiece.

Two others, Hannah Fuller and Ally Haupt, had three each.

It’s how Heritage countered that turned the tables.

Lady Mountaineer senior Kassi Knight sweeps to the basket along the baseline.

Lady Mountaineer senior Kassi Knight sweeps to the basket.

Wright substituted four and five at a time throughout, with no drop in level play. The effect on the Lady Mountaineers was telling through two quarters as William Blount full-court pressed and sprinted its way to a 27-21 lead at the half.

If you don’t have 10 that can play, the Lady Governors are going to be a tough out come tournament time.

“It makes us hard to guard,” William Blount coach Todd Wright said. “We feel it makes tough for (opponents) to key in on certain people.”

A series of missed shots around the basket had been costly for the Lady Mountaineers early.

“If we’d hit those layups, we would have had a pretty good lead (at halftime),” Heritage coach Rick Howard said.

The Lady Mountaineers countered William Blount’s depth on the glass, Sutton raking off 16 boards for an impressive double-double.

“She’s really worked on getting stronger,” Howard said.

Lexi Campos drives the lane against Hutsell.

Lexi Campos drives the lane against Hutsell.

Her goal had been Tabitha Fiegler’s school record, Sutton said.

“Coach and I talked before the game, and the school record is 21,” she said. “We wanted to break it (Friday).”

Hutsell just missed the double with nine rebounds, Thomas adding six, Knight five. Rebounding and Hutsell’s late third quarter surge went hand in hand in rallying Heritage.

With William Blount leading 32-23 with six minutes to play in the third, the Lady Mountaineers rebounded a missed shot seven times on one possession.

“The eighth rebound was a kick out to (Hutsell),” Wright said.

Hutsell didn’t miss, adding two more 3s in the final 40 seconds.

Closing the quarter in style, she came away with a steal beneath the William Blount basket just before the horn sounded.

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