3A STATE BASKETBALL: Sanders late heroics lift Lamar to 45-42 victory over Valley Springs to close out first-round play

Lamar's Kori Sanders has bounced back from an injury that sidelined her last season to help the Lady Warriors to the top of 3A-5 Conference,
(River Valley Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)
Lamar's Kori Sanders has bounced back from an injury that sidelined her last season to help the Lady Warriors to the top of 3A-5 Conference, (River Valley Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)

ELKINS -- The two-toned hair Kori Sanders dons and the bright pink shoes she wears make her hard to miss when she's on the basketball court.

What Lamar's junior guard did to lead her team to a first-round victory in the Class 3A girls state tournament Thursday was easy to recognize as well.

Sanders ended the third quarter with a key series of plays to give the Lady Warriors the lead, then she did her part in the fourth quarter to help them claim a 45-42 win over Valley Springs at Elks Arena.

"I knew I needed to pick our energy up and get our team going," Sanders said. "That's kind of my way of doing it. I have to get up and put pressure on the other team. That's what I'm good at, and that's how I get myself up and get my team going. I thought it was a good time to do it."

Valley Springs (25-11) had a 25-22 lead after a Tayla Trammell bucket with 57 seconds left in the third quarter and had a chance to extend that lead before Sanders took matters into her hands.

She picked up a steal and hit a layup with 39 seconds left, then stole the ball again and hit two free throws to put Lamar (27-6) ahead 26-25 to start the fourth quarter.

The Lady Warriors started the fourth quarter with a quick 9-2 spurt, and Sanders capped it with a three-pointer for a 35-27 cushion with 4:29 remaining.

"She got a little agitated," Lamar Coach Brandon Schluterman said of Sanders. "Her and No. 11 [Valley Springs' Macy Willis] had a pretty good battle out there individually and got into each other a little bit. Kori got agitated and took things over in those key points.

"We went on a little spurt there. We had great looks all night long and just struggled to get the ball into the hole. In the fourth quarter, we stuck with it. Kori had a big three and Emna Bailey hits a big three and played just enough defense."

Valley Springs made things interesting until the final buzzer and whittled Lamar's lead down to two on a pair of occasions. The Lady Tigers had a chance to tie after Trammell's basket made it 44-42 with 12 seconds left. Sanders then hit just one of two free throws, but a three-pointer in front of the Valley Springs bench was off the mark at the buzzer.

Sanders finished with 26 points and was the only player in double figures for Lamar. Willis had 17 points for Valley Springs, while Trammell added 12.

Harding Academy 50, Lincoln 37

Harding Academy outscored Lincoln 14-4 in the third quarter and pulled away to win.

The Lady Wildcats (26-8) had a 25-17 halftime lead, then the third-quarter outburst allowed them to extend their margin to 39-21. Harding Academy led by as many 24 points before Lincoln (18-16) made things closer in the final moments.

Mileigh Harlow scored 12 of 13 points in the second half for Harding Academy, while Claire Citty added 12 and Emery Wilson 10. Sarah Snodgress finished with 17 and was the only Lincoln player in double figures.

Mayflower 67, Dumas 62, OT

Kiki Williamson scored 10 of her 15 points in overtime as the Lady Eagles rallied to beat Dumas.

The Lady Bobcats led 16-13 after the first quarter, 35-27 at halftime and 47-39 going into the fourth quarter.

Mayflower rallied to take a fourth quarter lead, but Dumas tied it at 54-54 entering overtime.

Mayflower (25-7) outscored Dumas 13-6 in the overtime period.

Hailey Francis led Mayflower with 25 points, while Riley Whittington and Williamson each had 15.

Kendri Broughton led Dumas (28-7) with 37 points, while Stephana Steen had 12.

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