West Union used a big performance by an eighth grader, holding on to a 59-58 win at Lewisburg on Tuesday.
Gracen Conlee connected on five three-pointers, finishing with 20 points, and it was her free throw in the fourth quarter that made the difference in the final.
“As an eighth grader, she doesn’t play like it, and she’s getting better each day,” coach Kelly Robbins said. “We have a long way to go with her, but she can be a very talented player in the future. I thought she handled the ball very well for us tonight, and as an eighth grader, really helped us out.”
The Lady Eagles found themselves down by nine in the third quarter and slowly work their way from behind. Three triples from Conlee helped tighten the gap and eventually gave West Union its final lead as part of a 7-0 run.
“They are learning how to be smarter with handling the ball and getting open, and they did,” Robbins said. “They stayed calm and didn’t play like they were down and played like they knew they could. We limited our turnovers, which really helped us at the end of the game.”
Lewisburg came within two, 58-56, before the free throw by Conlee made it a three-point lead, 59-56. With less than a minute remaining, Mallory Newby fouled Lady Patriot Lakiesha Kelly at the three-point line, but Kelly only converted on two of the free throws, allowing West Union to hold on for the win. The Lewisburg senior led all scorers with 29 points, causing problems throughout the game despite a setback late in the third quarter, an injury that temporarily placed her on the bench. Kelly returned in the fourth, scoring eight of the Lady Patriots’ 16 points in the frame.
“She’s a really good shooter, quick, and we didn’t have any girls that have that type of speed,” Robbins said of Kelly. “I do hate that she had to sit out, but it worked to our advantage. I thought my girls did a good job of guarding her in the lane. She did a good job on the outside, but we were just trying to contain her the best we could.”
Julianna Garner finished with 13 points for West Union followed by 10 points from Samantha Bridges.
Lewisburg 63 West Union 35 (boys)
Jimmy Russell scored 14 second half points to lead West Union, but the Patriots were too much in its 28-point win.
Lewisburg held the Eagles to only 10 first half points, but Russell came out in the third quarter scoring eight of West Union’s 10 points in the quarter.
Cody Hanna led the Patriots with 13 points off the bench, followed by 11 points from Zack Jorgensen.
West Union will next play on Jan. 6 at Hickory Flat.