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While senior night ended as a success for the Lady Donkeys, their joy might have come with a steep price.
In the first quarter of B-D’s 45-43 victory over Ringling, senior Erica Hatfield collapsed to the floor clutching her knee, an injury which could prevent her from playing in the playoffs starting on Friday night.
“It’s so hard as a coach to assess that kind of situation realistically,” B-D coach Frank Moser said about the injury. “My thought is she hyper-extended the knee and there is a little swelling there. She’s going to go have it examined in the morning. Hopefully there is no structural damage there.”
Ironically enough, it was a rebound by junior Ashlee Kelly which won the game for the Lady Donkeys in the dying seconds.
During a scramble under the basket, Ringling’s C-Leigh Butler and Nicole Kessler both put up attempted game-tying layups with the clock winding down.
Fortunately for the Lady Donkeys, Ashlee Kelly was in the right place to snatch her 10th rebound of the contest and seal the victory for her team.
“This was a really good team effort tonight,” Moser said. “We had some really good guard play from Morgan (Kovar) and Taylor (Nichols) tonight. They’ve both been playing better recently. We did have too many turnovers the first half but we settled down. I was the most proud with how we played late on keeping good possession.”
Despite the injury setback to Hatfield, the Lady Donkeys held it together and managed to keep a 9-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
With 4:45 left in the second quarter, it looked like RHS was reeling as the Lady Donkeys held a 17-10 lead.
However, the lead quickly vanished as the Lady Blue Devils managed to tie the game at the 3:29 mark.
Hatfield eventually made her way out of the locker room with her knee heavily taped to play the rest of the first half, but by then Ringling had taken full advantage as the Lady Blue Devils led 24-18.
After the break, the Lady Donkeys came out fighting as they were well within striking distance at 35-32 with three quarters complete.
B-D took the lead for good at the 6:45 mark of the fourth quarter with the score 37-36, as the Lady Donkeys claimed their seventh win of the season to improve their record to 7-15.
Morgan Kovar finished with 14 points for the Lady Donkeys, with Ashlee Kelly completing a double-double with 11 points to go with her 10 rebounds. Taylor Nichols scored 12 points, with Erica Hatfield and Alma Alvarez each scoring four points in the contest.
“We’re going to miss our seniors, but we’re excited for the future,” Moser said about his two senior players. “Erica has a lot of passion, and sometimes gets a little hot-headed. But, that’s just because she loves the game so much. Morgan is very coachable. She’s always coming up with new ideas on the court and I’m very proud of how she’s matured as a player.”
Ringling was led by C-Leigh Butler with 12 points followed by Bailey Tolliver with 10 points. Magan Cunningham added eight points while Chandler Smith scored five points.
B-D’s quest to make it back to the regional tournament will begin Friday night at 6:30 p.m. on the campus of Chattanooga High School as the Lady Donkeys will meet Tipton in the first round of the playoffs.