LEXINGTON — The Stuarts Draft girls basketball team broke open a close game against Parry McCluer on Saturday afternoon and went on to post a convincing 53-36 victory in the Rock the Ribbon Roundball Shootout at Rockbridge County High School.

The two-day tournament, which is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life of Rockbridge, featured three games Friday and eight on Saturday. Saturday’s first two games featured the only two girls teams in the tournament.

The game started off slowly for both teams and after one quarter, the Blues of Parry McCluer had managed just a single point off a free throw from Grayce Henson. The Stuarts Draft Cougars dropped in just two buckets, one from Madi Armentrout and one from Lyndsay Harris to hold a 4-1 lead after the opening minutes.

The Draft offense ignited in the second period and the long-range shots were dropping. Five of the six Cougar field goals in the quarter were three pointers as Armentrout, McKinley Fitzgerald, Maggie Sorrells, Gracie Martin, and Harris each connected from downtown. Hadley May powered up a bucket inside, was fouled, and hit her free throw to also add three points. The other points of the period came when Leah Wood and Harris each dropped in two shots from the free throw line.

Parry McCluer also found the mark in the second period behind the hot shooting of Henson and Katie Claytor. Henson tallied four points from the field and two more from the free throw line. Claytor hit two shots from beyond the arc and two from close range.

The teams headed into the locker room with the Cougars holding a 26-18 point advantage. However, the Blues came out after the half on a mission, hitting three free throws and then an inside bucket from Katie Claytor to pull the team within three, 23-26, with 4:35 left in the period.

That was as close as Parry McCluer could come as the Cougars went to the press, forcing turnovers and turning up the tempo of the game. Fitzgerald started the Draft spree with a three pointer from the top of the key with 4:22 left in the period. May then fielded a pass in the lane for a layup and the Cougars were off and running with 15 unanswered points to end the quarter with a commanding 41-23 lead.

The Blues’ Henson did score the first four points of the final period, but Fitzgerald led a five-point charge to expand the Draft lead. Parry McCluer added nine more points down the stretch, but Draft added seven on the other side to finish with a comfortable, 53-36, margin of victory.

“The big difference in the game was the third quarter,” Stuarts Draft coach Brad Dewitt said. “They made a run and then we picked it up defensively. By picking up the tempo we were able to force some turnovers and it worked out well for us,” he explained.

The Cougars had three players in double figures: Armentrout with 10, Fitzgerald with 14, and Harris with 12. Fitzgerald and Wood lead the effort on the boards with five apiece. Armentrout tallied four steals and Lyndsay Harris had three picks.

The Cougars, now 7-2, host Buffalo Gap on Tuesday.

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