Adair County entered play in the 20th District tournament on Tuesday night in Marion County with their sights on defeating Marion County for the third time and securing their spot in the regional tournament for the first time since the 2016/17 season. The Lady Indians did just that with a great performance to come away with a 73-63 victory over the Lady Knights, with Ellie Cheatham and Kinslee Akin leading the way.
“What a great effort from our girls tonight, Coach Jerald Bryant said. “We got a great contribution from everyone on the team.”
The first half proved that this contest would be a tight one as the two teams were tied 16-16 after the first quarter and 29-29 at the half. Akin had a big first half scoring 11 points to help Adair County continue to battle with the Lady Knights as they tried to hold off the Marion County pressure and take control of the game. Despite losing the rebound battle in the first half, the Lady Indians forced more first half turnovers and put themselves in position to battle for the win down the stretch.
“We were able to handle their pressure and pressure them in return,” Coach Bryant said. “Our passing came across and a good result in the second half.”
The Lady Indians outscored Marion County 21 to 12 in the third quarter to lead 50-41 into the final quarter of play. Early in the third, the Lady Knights took a three point lead before the Lady Indians finished on a 15 to 3 run to give Adair County the nine point margin into the fourth. Adair County had a balanced attack of scoring in the quarter with Akin scoring six, Cheatham five, Sarai Collins four, and Reece Bardin and Jada Woolridge both pitched in three each.
Despite losing Collins and Woolridge in the early part of the final quarter due to fouling out, the Lady Indians continued their route to victory with some key minutes and effort from the bench. Marion County pulled the deficit down to five points around the three and a half minute mark but Adair County proved to be too much down the stretch to come away with the win.
Cheatham led the way with 23 points while completing the double-double by adding a game high 18 rebounds. Akin picked a good night to pick up her career high 21 points, Collins ended with 11 while Bardin, Woolridge, and Lily Loy added five points each, and Callee White chipped in three points.
Adair County will now face the top-seeded Taylor County Lady Cardinals on Friday night for the district championship. The Lady Cardinals defeated Adair County in both contests during the regular season but the Lady Indians will be looking for a different outcome this go around.
“We’re thankful for the support from our fans and family as well as the Adair County boys team, cheerleaders, and administrators,” Coach Bryant said.
With the win, Adair County guaranteed themselves a spot in the 5th region tournament that starts on Monday in Taylor County. The draw for the tournament will take place Saturday morning so be on the lookout for the regional tournament schedule and be sure to follow the Lady Indians as they continue postseason play.
By Josh Withers