Report by Wes Gwaltney
Tournament season never disappoints in high school basketball and Monday night that certainly held true.
A roller coaster would likely be the descriptor for most people as this game had everything a diehard fan could ask for.
From the opening tipoff, the action was fast and exciting as the Lady Patriots struggled from the field and saw just how dangerous the Lady Pioneers can be.
Feeding off of Pioneer Nation, the Lady Pioneers just didn’t seem to miss in the opening six minutes as they would drop basket after basket and force several turnovers to open up a 22-0 lead.
In the final two minutes of the first quarter, Marion would slightly find their footing as they would finally get on the scoreboard and at least slow the momentum of Batesville heading into the first break down 28-6.
The second quarter was basically a whole different ballgame as the shots didn’t fall quite as frequently for the Lady Pioneers as the defensive pressure was turned up and they would actually be outscored in the quarter by four, but still holding a sizable 37-19 lead.
The Lady Pioneers would see more of the same struggles in the third as Marion dictated the pace of the game and once again outscored the Lady Pioneers, this time by nine points to head into the final frame with a 45-36 game.
With momentum in the Lady Patriots’ hands, a timeout by Coach Fowler with just a six point lead would awaken the Lady Pioneer offense as Senior London Cuzzort would break the scoring drought for Batesville at the charity stripe and Senior Izzy Higginbottom would go off for the Lady Pioneers next 19 points.
With several key stops on the defensive end by Senior Kaylee Clark, Sophomore Kayla Ward, who was playing with four fouls, Junior Taylor Rush, and Cuzzort, and the scoring barrage by Higginbottom, the Lady Pioneers would stretch their lead back to double digits and would go on to claim the victory 65-50 over Marion.
Leading the Lady Pioneers in scoring was Senior Izzy Higginbottom with 40 points, Junior Taylor Rush would join in double digits with 11, all of which came in the first quarter, Cuzzort would add six, Clark would add four, Senior Riley Freeman would add three, and Ward would have one point with several big-time blocks and rebounds.
The Lady Pioneers will now get just one day of rest before they head back to Pioneer Gymnasium to take on the Jonesboro Lady Hurricanes for the Conference Championship Wednesday night with tip-off set for 7 p.m.