Looking for just the right mixture of toughness and determination in a basketball player?
Look no further than Alton Lady Comet Lauren Hatten and her performance in a 61-56 victory over Norwood Dec. 18 in Alton.
With her team clinging to a hard-earned 53-49 lead over the Lady Pirates midway into the final period, Hatten went up to defend a shot, only to hit the floor in a crumple with an injured ankle.
Lying on the court in extreme pain, Hatten, who already wears a knee brace on one leg, was helped to the bench with 4:10 left in the game.
However, a little over a minute later, Hatten was back on the floor with a fresh tape job on the gimpy ankle, ready to roll.
And roll she did.
With the game knotted at 56-all, Hatten (11 points) rolled right near the baseline and tossed in a 6-foot fallaway shot with 50 ticks left on the clock to give the Lady Comets the lead for good.
Shelli Ellis made sure this lead stood by knocking down three big free throws in the last 27 seconds of action to seal the 61-56 win for Alton. Ellis had another outstanding game for the Lady Comets with a team-high 21 points.
Sam Allred played a major role in Alton's success on this night, as well. She knocked down a pair of big triples on the evening and also converted an old-fashioned 3-point play that kept Alton afloat during Hatten's absence in the fourth period. Allred ended the game with 18 points for the Lady Comets.
It looked for awhile in the early going that the Lady Pirates might run away and hide behind their big guns, Julie Gray and Amber Malone. Gray fired in 21 points for Norwood, while Malone dominated the going down low with a game-high 23 points.
Norwood held a 4-2 advantage early in the first period when Malone got busy.
She scored 12 of the Lady Pirates' next 14 points in the first, giving Norwood a 19-13 lead after one.
Alton trailed 15-8 and was in danger of really letting things slip away when Allred hit back-to-back buckets and Sarah Rowe (seven points) chipped in with a trey to keep the Lady Comets close.
In a hole for the whole way in the first, the Lady Comets finally grabbed the margin on their side, 23-21, at the 5:28 mark of the second on Allred's first triple of the game.
The lead see-sawed the rest of the period before Ellis closed the book on the first half with a pair of charity tosses that pushed the Lady Comets on top 34-33 at intermission.
It didn't take Norwood long to erase this deficit.
Opening the third period with five straight points, the Lady Pirates climbed back in the driver's seat with a 38-34 lead.
While Norwood had scored the first five points of the frame, it was Alton that accounted for the major damage in the third.
The Lady Comets outpaced Norwood 15-4 over the course of the last five minutes of the third to take a 49-42 lead after three.
The Lady Comets ended the third on a 6-zip run with buckets from Allred, Ellis and Courtney Gazaway.
Not content with a seven-point lead, Allred extended this advantage for Alton to 10, 52-42, by drilling a 3-pointer to start the fourth.
The Lady Pirates managed to wipe out this lead with an 11-1 run in the fourth, but Hatten's clutch shot, bad ankle and all, restored order for Alton to give the Lady Comets a tight 61-56 victory.
The Comets fell to the homestanding Mountain Grove Panthers 43-34 Dec. 19.
Alton trailed 24-9 at the half, but managed to claw back into contention by outpacing the Panthers 15-3 in the third period.
However, Mountain Grove regrouped and held on to win.