While it looked like the Calico Rock Lady Pirates and Salem Lady Greyhounds were swimming in quicksand in the first half of their 2AA-North battle at Harold Ray Jeffery Gymnasium Jan. 20, the second half proved to be quite the opposite, with the Lady Pirates breaking their recent skid by handing Salem a thrilling 42-40 defeat.
Down by a bucket with 20 ticks left on the clock, Salem's Heather Bales calmly sank a pair of free throws to lock the game at 40-all.
Bales led the Lady Greyhounds with a game-high 14 points.
Moving the ball down court quickly, the Lady Pirates missed a shot to go on top, but Reannon Nave grabbed the carom and stuck it back in to put Calico Rock in front 42-40 with eight seconds left to play.
Nave tallied 13 points to lead the Lady Pirates.
Going the length of the court, the Lady Hounds' Stephanie Barker (five points) couldn't get a short jumper in the lane to go in as the buzzer sounded, with Calico Rock emerging with a two-point win.
The first half of play was nothing like the second, with a grand total of eight field goals being logged in the first two periods, five by Calico Rock, and three by the Lady Greyhounds.
Reannon Nave posted the Lady Pirates' first five points of the game, helping Calico Rock to a 5-4 lead after the first period.
The Lady Hounds were haunted by careless ball handling and missed shots from close range in the first 16:00 of play, with the Lady Pirates holding a 14-9 halftime lead.
Salem's woes followed them into the early part of the second half, opening 0-4 from the floor before Barker connected on the Lady Hounds' first trey of the game at the 5:23 mark of the third to deadlock the contest at 14-all.
Salem could not swipe the lead in the frame as Calico Rock closed strong, fueled in part by five late points, including a 3-ball from Jessica Weems (six points) to lead by five, 27-22, after three.
Jumping out to an 8-2 burst early in the fourth, Salem got over the hump and grabbed the lead for the first time on the night, 30-29, on a layup by Hannah Bray (eight points) at the 5:10 mark.
The margin switched sides a couple of times during the stretch, before troubles at the charity stripe proved costly to the Lady Hounds.
Clinging to a 37-36 lead at the 1:07 mark, Salem, in the double-bonus, could only manage one-of-seven shooting from the stripe, keeping the door open for Calico Rock, until Bales knocked in a pair with 20 seconds on the clock.
This left just enough room for the Lady Pirates to reclaim the advantage with a pair of free throws from Whitney Herron (11 points), setting up Reannon Nave's game-winning offensive rebound and stickback with eight seconds remaining, after Bales had knotted the game at 40-all from the stripe.
Rachel Nave added seven points for Calico Rock, while Ruby Speak and Tonya Kovalaske tallied two each. Candy Williams finished with one point for the Lady Pirates.
Ashley Smith posted eight for Salem, while Brittany Bales added five.
On the boys' side, the Salem Greyhounds can exhale and say "Finally."
After weeks of close games ending with near misses, the Hounds finally put all the pieces together, routing the Pirates 75-30 to earn their third victory on the year, and first in 2AA-North play.
Despite clicking on all cylinders offensively, the key to Salem's win likely came on the defensive end as they held high-scoring Pirate guard Scottie Sanders to 11 points, just four days after Sanders exploded for 35 against the Melbourne Bearkatz.
But on this night, there would be no encore performance as it was all Hounds, all the time, with Salem using a 28-2 run in the first period to jump on top 32-6 after one.
Calico Rock was plagued by turnover problems, losing the ball seven straight times in one stretch, as the Greyhounds poured it on.
Salem kept up their fly paper-like defense in the second period, moving in front by a comfortable margin of 46-18 at the half.
Up 66-29 heading into the final frame, the Greyhound regulars got a break, with the reserve squad finishing off Salem's 75-30 waxing of Calico Rock.
Justin Howell paced Salem with 14 points, while Robbie Hurtt and Chad Willett added 11 each. Leon Harvey finished with 10, Phillip Taylor seven and Tyler Humphries six. Nathan Criss tallied four, while Kyle Estes added three. James Wagner and Dusty York posted two each, while Wes James, Brandon Newman, Travis Adams and James Lowrie tallied a point apiece.
Travis Hamby finished with eight for the Pirates, while Chris Turner posted four points, and Adam Hall three. Kyle Miller added two, with Marcus Orf and Tony Vredenburg logging a point each.