Few teams stepping into the ring with the Izard County Consolidated Lady Cougars this year have been able to survive the one-two punch of sophomore Sammi Fowler and junior Brittney Richardson.
Steadier than sunrise and sunset, ICC's dynamic duo will post a pair of double-double efforts every time the Lady Cougars hit the hardwood.
The Hoxie Lady Mustangs, too, have ridden the backs of a couple of outstanding players so far this season, junior Jessica Anglin and senior Brittney Jones. The Anglin/Jones tandem has been as devastating to Hoxie's opponents as Fowler/Richardson has been to ICC's.
It was with this backdrop that ICC squared off with Hoxie in the quarterfinals of the 20th annual George Kell Hall of Fame Classic on the campus of Swifton High School Jan. 12.
And on this night, it was the Anglin/Jones pairing that came out on top, as the Class AAA Lady Mustangs knocked ICC out of the tournament by a count of 57-42.
Anglin (21 points) and Jones (29 points) combined for 50 of Hoxie's 57 points on the evening, while they also snared 46 rebounds (Anglin 21, Jones 25) between them. And while the Lady Mustangs were hot from the floor, missing just five shots in 26 attempts on the night, the rebounds were huge, with Hoxie limiting the deadly Lady Cougars (20-4) to just one shot and out on ICC's end of the floor.
And while Fowler (17 points) and Richardson (18 points) still hit for double-figures on the night, the third-seeded Lady Cougars fell behind early in the game and just could not overtake the sixth-seeded Lady Mustangs.
Hoxie jumped out in front 10-2 at the 5:00 mark of the first period behind a pair of treys from Anglin.
ICC, which scored seven of its 13 first-half points from the free throw line, chipped back with five straight points to cut the Lady Mustangs' lead to 10-7.
Anglin then jacked another trey, a shot that sent Hoxie on a 13-2 run to close the first period. Adding a 3-pointer at the buzzer, the Lady Mustangs led 23-9 after the first period.
With a 14-point lead in tow, Hoxie spread the floor a bit in the second period and slowed the game down to keep the Lady Cougars from turning the contest into a track meet.
In a low-scoring second period, Hoxie posted just six points, while ICC countered with a jumper by Richardson and two free throws from Fowler for four points in the stanza, leaving Hoxie on top 29-13 at the half.
This trend continued in the second half, as the Lady Mustangs refused to let ICC get any second chance points by controlling the defensive backboards.
With the Lady Cougars down 31-13, Fowler nailed back-to-back triples that cut into Hoxie's margin, 31-19.
Haley Crotts swiped the ball out of Anglin's hands and tossed it into the hoop just before the third-period horn sounded, with Hoxie in front 38-25 after three.
Still slicing away at Hoxie's advantage, the Lady Cougars got within single digits, 39-31, early in the fourth thanks to six unanswered points by Richardson.
The Lady Cougars were hanging around, down 43-37, with just a shade over four minutes left in the game when Hoxie closed the book on ICC.
Reeling off a 12-0 run, fueled by Anglin and Jones, the Lady Mustangs advanced to the semi-final round with a 57-42 win over the Lady Cougars.
Trace Grinnell finished with three points for ICC, while Brittney Bailey added two.
The Lady Cougars opened play in the Kell Classic with a 59-31 win over Crowley's Ridge Academy Jan. 7 behind 27 points from Richardson and 17 from Fowler.