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The Hardin-Central Lady Bulldogs had trouble getting their offense untracked Saturday night in the championship game of the Braymer Invitational. Even though the Lady Dawgs hit just 20 percent from the field, it was the free throw line that proved to be the difference in Southwest’s 40-34 victory.
The Lady Wildcats remained unbeaten in seven games as they went to the free throw line 32 times, while Hardin-Central attempted only 10. Southwest held a 19-6 scoring edge at the stripe to drop the Lady Dawgs to 8-2.
“The offense was good enough if we just didn’t put them on the free throw line like we did,” Hardin-Central Coach Ken Layman said. “We outscored them from the field, but not the free throw line.”
The Lady Bulldogs never held a lead in the game. A pair of 3-point buckets by Lauren Upton helped Southwest jump on top early and take a 10-7 lead after the opening 8 minutes. Upton and teammate Sindy Chavez would end the night with 12 points each. Chavez would collect most of her points from the stripe as the senior Wildcat hit 8 of 14 free throws.
Southwest stretched its lead to 16-9 midway through the second quarter before the Lady Bulldogs went to the press to get their offense jump started. Hardin-Central was able to cut the halftime deficit to 18-16.
Another Upton 3-pointer got Southwest going as the second half unfolded to help the Wildcats build a 26-19 lead. Brooke Derstler, who ended the night with a game-high 15 points hit a 3-pointer for Hardin-Central at 4:19, but the Lady Dawgs couldn’t find the range again until Reanna Newham’s bucket 2 minutes later. Newham’s basket came off a steal as the Lady Dawgs applied full-court pressure to begin a string of 6 consecutive points that pulled Hardin-Central to within a point with 1:10 remaining in the quarter.
Once again, Southwest held on to take a 28-25 lead into the fourth frame.
A free throw from Allison Oyler and another 3-pointer from Derstler tied the game at 29-29, but the Wildcats followed by hitting 4 of 8 free throws over the next 3:30 to hold on for the win.
Newham ended the night with 5 points for Hardin-Central, with Brianne McGuire adding 4, followed by Oyler and Megan Layman with 3 apiece, while Morgan Nail and Tommie Twyman scored 2 each. Nail and Oyler grabbed 7 rebounds apiece for the Lady Dawgs, with Derstler and Layman pulling down 5 each.
PHOTO: Hardin-Central’s Brooke Derstler tries to draw a charging foul during Saturday night’s Braymer Invitational championship game against Southwest. (Photo by Russ Green/The Daily News.)