By Gary Lloyd
CLAY — Make it four Jefferson County Tournament championships in a row for Shades Valley.
But Clay-Chalkville made it difficult.
The Lady Cougars answered each Shades Valley bucket and briefly led by as many as three points late in the third quarter, but ultimately fell to the third-ranked Lady Mounties 74-60.
“We really responded to the challenge,” said first-year Clay-Chalkville head coach Courtney Payne.
Shades Valley (22-3) and Clay-Chalkville (21-6) were knotted at 52 with 1:50 left in the third quarter when the Lady Mounties ended the quarter on a 6-0 run. Shades Valley made 10-of-14 free throws in the final quarter to ice the game.
Clay-Chalkville junior guard Kristian Hudson scored a game-high 27 points. She also added four assists and four steals. Junior forward T.J. Thomas scored 11 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and blocked two shots. Both were named to the all-tournament team.
Clay-Chalkville senior sharpshooter Bria Bethea missed the game with a sprained ankle.
Tournament most valuable player Morgan William, a Mississippi State signee, scored 20 points and had nine steals. Her defense, along with that of her teammates, seemed to rattle Clay-Chalkville late in the fourth quarter.
“It was swarming,” Payne said. “Their press is tough.”
Kaihla Carter scored 14 points and Katelyn Thomas added 13 points for Shades Valley.
Payne said it was the best effort she’s seen from her Clay-Chalkville team this season. Hudson agreed.
“I think it was a great team effort,” Hudson said. “We just gave it everything we had.”
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.