Lady Patriots top Hooper 67-61

Published 9:50 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Pike Liberal Arts School girl’s basketball team managed to take control of a tough early game against Hooper Academy Tuesday night to bring home a win 67-61.

The girls fought to no avail to take the lead away from the visiting Colts in the first period, getting ahead only briefly in the closing seconds 15-13 on a shot by Sarah Saunders before falling into a tie.

The second period wasn’t much better, with the Colts keeping hold of the lead and getting up by as much as six points before sending the Patriots to the locker room down 33-31.

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But the difficulties of the first half were erased when the Patriots own Marlee Tunstill got on a hot streak, scoring 16 points and giving her team a lead they would keep for the remainder of play.

Tunstill was a dominating presence on the court, scoring 29 points in the game and sinking 17 of the 24 free shots she attempted.

“Marlee is a young player but when she gets on a run she’s hard to stop,” Patriots head coach Robert Hawkins said. “She’s one of the fastest tall girls I’ve seen and this was a huge game for her tonight.”

Though Tunstill was the biggest offensive presence for the Patriots, she wasn’t the only one contributing to the victory.

Both Katie Ward and Carrley Barron brought in 11 points each, and Saunders dropped in nine of her own.

The team was also nearly untouchable on the free shots, with both Barron hitting every attempt and Saunders only missing one out of four.

“We haven’t been a really good free throw team in the past few games,” Hawkins said. “But Steven Kilcrease, who helps coach the girls told me that they hadn’t missed one in practice and I think us being able to make them played a big part in keeping us in this game.”

Perhaps the biggest part of the Patriots win tonight was the impact it will have in the girl’s postseason chances, a fact that is not lost on Coach Hawkins.

“We’re in a three-way tie for the region and the first seed gets an automatic bid to the playoffs,” he said. “This was a big win and it gives us a big boost. We had a good plan coming in and the girls executed it flawlessly I’m very proud of them.”

The girls will get a few days of rest before they host Crenshaw Christian on Saturday, Jan. 28, with a noon tip-off scheduled.