By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer
It will be a comeback that Nicole Wright and Hilldale Lady Hornets will not soon forget.
After scoring just one point in the first quarter and only 10 in the first half, Hilldale rallied and Wright’s layup at the buzzer lifted the Lady Hornets to a 39-37 homecoming victory against Locust Grove’s Lady Pirates in Verdigris Valley Conference action at Hilldale’s Event Center on Tuesday night.
A junior, Wright took the inbounds pass from Destiny Riddle and moved in for the layup from the left side of basket as the buzzer sounded.
“I was supposed to be looking for Katie (Kirkhart) and saw she wasn’t open. I knew I had to do something with it or we would be going into overtime,” Wright, who scored all of her 10 points in the second half, said. “I did what I could. I don’t think I can forget this game if I tried.”
Hilldale coach Scott Hensley was confident Wright could win the game in regulation.
“As soon as she made that spin move — and I’ve seen her do it for two years now — you’ve got a feeling the ball’s going to go in,” he said.
The Lady Hornets, now 9-4 overall and 3-2 in conference, trailed 12-1 after the first period and 22-10 at halftime. But they roared back with a 17-0 scoring run in the third quarter. Hensley’s squad eventually outscored the Lady Pirates 17-2 in the third period.
Casady Mills’ 3-pointer gave Hilldale its first lead of the game 23-22 with 4:40 left in the third period. She finished with 10 points.
Locust Grove took a 37-35 lead on Morgan LIttlebear’s layup with 1:06 left in the game.
Wright tied the game at 37-37 with two free throws with 50.1 seconds left. Mills stole the ball with 3.5 seconds left and the Lady Hornets called a full timeout to set up the last play.
“The girls wanted it. We didn’t do so hot in the first half but we came back and ready to play,” Wright, who had a team-high eight rebounds, said. “We turned things around big time. We tried harder in the second half.”
Hensley said defensive effort helped his team to rally.
“We wanted to find No. 24 (Locust Grove’s Madison Davis) because she was killing us in the first half,” he said.
Davis had 14 points in the first half, but she didn’t score in the second half as the Lady Pirates dropped to 6-5 and 4-4.
Hilldale’s girls and boys return to the Event Center on Thursday to play rival Fort Gibson.
Locust Grove 55, Hilldale 36
The Hornets (4-9, 0-5) shot just 26.9 percent (11 of 41) from the field in dropping the game to the Pirates (9-3, 5-2).
Hilldale scored just four points in the second quarter and five in the third period in losing their second straight game.
“We just had a hard time scoring. They’re a good team and we pressed them,” coach Jeremy Rogers said. “They turned the ball over, but we couldn’t take advantage of any extra possessions off turnovers. We got some good shots, but you’ve just got to put the ball in the hole.”
Hunter Harrison, who signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Connors State on Tuesday, finished with 12 points. Jordan Proctor had a team-high 10 rebounds.
Hilldale trailed 13-9 after the first period and 24-13 at halftime.
Colton Pike led the Pirates with 21 points and nine rebounds.