It's not every day that you can say the girls outplayed the boys, but that was the case at Central High School Tuesday night for the District 6-AA battle between the visiting Hixson Wildcats and the host Purple Pounders.
It was a battle for first place among the ladies and for today, the Lady Wildcats have that honor after remaining unbeaten following the 51-49 victory in double overtime.
Hixson's boys had a 4-0 lead following a double technical and four free throws to open their game, but the Central boys went on a 19-0 run in the next seven minutes and never looked back en route to an 84-46 victory.
The Hixson girls are now 7-0 overall and 4-0 in 6-AA while Central falls to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the district.
Central's boys are now 3-2 overall and 2-2 in 6-AA while Hixson is 2-4 overall and 1-3 in 6-AA.
HIXSON GIRLS 51, CENTRAL 49: This wasn't exactly a picture-perfect game, but for a couple of teams who more often are playing for last place instead of first, it was a positive experience for coach Matt Smith and his Lady Wildcats.
Hixson had a 22-21 lead at intermission before Central took charge in the third quarter and built a 33-28 lead with one quarter remaining.
The difference was 41-33 with about four minutes remaining when the Lady Wildcats made their move.
A free throw and ensuing 3-pointer cut that lead in half on one possession while T.T. Staten scored on a putback and McKenna Massengale and Cierra Taylor both sank a free throw to knot the score as Central didn't score in the final four minutes.
Rebekah Hill nailed a 3 to start the overtime and teammate Sandrea Sylman scored on a layup as Central once again had a five-point lead with 2:33 remaining in the first extra period.
Massengale and Taylor had a free throw each before Taylor scored on a putback with 21 seconds as Hixson cut the lead to 46-45.
The Lady Pounders couldn't stand prosperity and turned the ball over in the waning seconds, but Taylor took charge and was driving toward the basket only to be fouled as the horn sounded. The referees put 1.5 seconds back on the clock with Taylor at the free throw stripe.
She missed the first before making the second to force the second overtime.
Sylman and Staten traded buckets before Virginia Rivers gave Hixson the lead for the last time with the second of two free throws with 1:37 to play.
Massengale then calmly sank two charity tosses a minute later for a three-point Hixson lead.
Sylman was fouled in the act with 17.5 seconds to play and made the second of two to cut the gap to 51-49, but that's the way it ended when the Lady Pounders failed to get off a last-second shot after forcing a Hixson turnover at midcourt.
Hixson's Smith was just happy that his team made enough shots to win.
"It seems like we always have a battle when we play Central. It's still early in the second, but it surely is nice to get off to such a great start," he said, referring to their unbeaten status after seven games.
"We both made it tougher on ourselves than it should have been and we only hit 20 of 38 free throws, but I guess we hit enough.
"The best news about this game is the fact that we didn't panic in the fourth quarter when we were down by eight," Smith added.
Staten had 15 points to lead the victorious Lady Wildcats while Taylor followed with 12 and Massengale with 11, including nine of 12 at the charity stripe. Rivers was next with eight points.
Sylman was tops for Central with 25 points, including 17 in the second half. Rebekah Hill was also in double figures with a dozen.
CENTRAL BOYS 84, HIXSON 46: The Pounders were slapped with a double technical seven seconds into the game and had a 4-0 lead when William Nelson canned all four free throws.
But by the time Robert Glass sank the first of two free throws, the difference was 19-5 and the Pounders never looked back.
It had been a trying time for the young Pounders after getting embarrassed at home on Friday in a loss to Red Bank, but Central coach Rick Rogers promised at that time that his team would be ready to play against the Wildcats and he was right on target with his prediction.
Central's lead was 21-7 when the first quarter ended while the difference was 31-15 following two charity tosses by Hixson's Allen Diaz with 4:54 remaining in the half.
Central then ended all thoughts of a Hixson comeback with a 17-0 run to end the half and it never got much closer.
"That was totally unexpected," Rogers said in reference to the 38-point difference when the final horn sounded.
"I was confident that we would play hard and we did, but we did some real soul searching after that missed opportunity against Red Bank and they were ready to go tonight.
"I think our quickness caused them some problems, but we aren't a half-court team as we love to run and shoot. The best news is that we have some depth and got to play everyone tonight. But we weren't trying to run up the score," Rogers said in conclusion.
Hixson coach Alex Disbrow was scratching his head long before this game ended.
"I fully expected us to play better, but we obviously weren't ready and that falls on my shoulders. It's my job to have them ready, so I'll shoulder the blame for this loss," he said after a lengthy talk with his coaches after the game ended.
"We had a lot of early turnovers that really hurt and we appeared to give up as we started playing against each other instead of together. They lost confidence in their own ability and it just snowballed from there. I just hope the real Hixson shows up next time," he concluded with a smile.
Ryan Montgomery was tops for Central with 16 points, including 13 in the first half. Terron Hayes was next with 12 while Emmanuel Lane came off the bench to score 11. Twelve of Central's 13 players scored at least two points with Devin Swafford being the only one who didn't.
Junior Brandon Lewis, a 6-8 force inside, was home in bed with the flu.
Diaz was tops for Hixson with 16 points while Justice Alameda was also in double figures with 10.
Central's next game will be at Howard on Friday night while Hixson will be on the road again on Friday to face the Grace Academy Golden Eagles.
HIXSON 8 14 6 13 5 5 -- 51
CENTRAL 8 13 12 8 5 3 -- 49
HIXSON (51) -- Yates 2, Taylor 12, Staten 15, Massengale 11, White 3, Rivers 8.
CENTRAL (49) -- S. Jones, Ransom, Rogers 6, Davis 4, Sylman 25, Mitchell 2, Hixson, N. Jones, Hill 12, Miller.
3-POINT GOALS: Hixson none; Central 4 (Rogers 2, Hill 2).
HIXSON 7 10 18 11 -- 46
CENTRAL 21 27 15 21 -- 84
HIXSON (46) -- Alameda 10, Nelson 4, Beatty 2, Carver 2, Cooper 3, Glass 1, Diaz 16, Abbott 4, Weaver 4, Coleman.
CENTRAL (84) -- Montgomery 16, Tre Tiller 6, Billingsley 2, Hayes 12, Terry Tiller 9, Stewart 6, Benford 7, Swafford, Coleman 2, Poole 6, Baxter 5, Boyd 2, Lane 11.
3-POINT GOALS: Hixson 3 (Alameda 2, Cooper); Central 3 (Montgomery, Benford 2).
(email John Hunt at email@example.com)