AFTON — The Afton basketball teams scooped up a pair of Lucky 7 Conference victories at home Saturday night against Commerce.
The Lady Eagles (7-1) disposed of the Lady Tigers (5-2) 69-32 while the Afton boys (7-1) claimed a 38-27 win.
The Lady Tigers scored the first points of the night — a field goal from Courtney Watson- but wouldn’t sweat the scoreboard again until late in the quarter from the charity stripe as Afton raced out to a 23-4 lead after the first eight minutes.
Powered by leading scorer Macy Gibson, who had 18 points on the evening, the Lady Eagles enjoyed leads of 41-17 at the half and 57-19 at the start of the final frame before turning duties over to the bench.
“We’re kind of getting in the groove and the kids are working really well together,” said Lady Eagle coach Gerald Sergeant.
Afton senior Darby Todd, with 16 points, and junior Shelbie VanPielt, with 14, rounded out the double digit scorers for the Lady Eagles.
Senior Ashley Carroll added seven points.
The Lady Eagles, ranked fifth in Class A, have scheduled scrimmages with some larger 4A and 3A schools over the Christmas break.
“We’re going to get some real good workouts and play some really good teams over the break,” Sergeant said. “They are big schools but I think if you play those bigger schools that it makes you better when you get back to playing in your own class and against schools your own size.”
The team has bounced back from the adversity of a 66-64 overtime loss to 3A No. 3 Kansas in the finals of the Coca-Cola Classic last week.
“We’ve got good chemistry,” Sergeant said. “I think when we played Kansas that told the story right there. It was nip and tuck on both sides and went right down to the wire. It was a shame somebody had to lose. I’m proud of the kids and I think they’re working really hard.”
Watson was the leading scorer for the Lady Tigers Saturday night with 10 points. Kourtney Reading added nine to the mix.
The Eagles-Tigers matchup saw the first quarter end with the teams knotted at 2 on the scoreboard after eight minutes full of turnovers and cold shooting from both squads.
“I don’t think we had the right intensity at the start of the game,” Afton coach David Markes said. “Commerce seemed to have a lot more intensity than us and that kind of slowed us down and put us in a bind.”
Four second quarter treys, two from senior Ryan Markes and one each from Brandon Jones and Brennon Fuser, helped right the Eagles’ flight and gave the home team a 22-13 halftime lead.
The Tigers pulled to within five, 22-17, after the first three minutes of the second half on the power of field goals from Luke Manning and Trae Ratliff.
From there, the Eagle defense stiffened and shut Commerce out for the remainder of the frame. Afton senior Shawn Free put in seven of his game high 21 points to make it a 29-17 Eagle lead as the fourth quarter broke.
“Commerce played really hard, they always do,” said Coach Markes. “We’re still just struggling to find some chemistry and get a good mix. We’ll keep working towards that and hopefully get there eventually.”
Manning led the Tigers scoring with 10 points. Zach Barnes put up six.
David Markes gave his team a mixed review after the game.
“We are starting to look down the court a little better,” he said. “We’re still not getting the offensive boards that we should. There were times tonight where if we had just followed our own shot we could have got right back and scored.”
Both schools are now idle until after the holiday break.
Afton is off until Tuesday, Jan. 6, when it travels to Seneca, Mo.
Commerce won’t resume action until Friday, Jan. 19, when it hosts Welch in Lucky 7 Conference play.
Commerce 2 11 4 10 — 27
Afton 2 20 7 9 — 38
Commerce — Manning 10, Barnes 6, Bowling 4, Williams 4, Ratliff 2, Witten 1.
Afton — Free 21, Markes 7, Fuser 5, Jones 3, Shepard 2.
3-point goals — Manning 2, Markes 2, Jones 1, Free 1.