MOUNT VERNON — On paper, the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds are the most evenly-matched teams in the first round of an eight-team tournament.
On the opening night Monday of the Class 3, District 12 girls tournament at Mount Vernon High, that definitely held true with No. 4 seed Seneca holding on for a thrilling 66-63 win over No. 5 El Dorado Springs.
Two players with very different scoring totals had a say in the final sequence of events.
Seneca freshman Kayla French came away with a late loose ball and El Dorado Springs fouled No. 25 with 5.2 seconds remaining on the clock and a 65-63 score. The Lady Indians had missed four straight free throws and needed at least one to make things more difficult for the Lady Bulldogs.
French split her free throws for a 66-63 lead.
Out of a timeout, El Dorado Springs senior point guard Paige Esry sprint dribbled down the court and her tying 3-point shot rimmed out at the buzzer.
French scored one point on the night — arguably the biggest — while Esry finished her prep career in style with a game-high 31 points.
To be honest, neither team could have afforded overtime given the foul trouble for both teams. Seneca guards Taylor Mailes and Chaney Platner fouled out in the final minute of regulation, while El Dorado Springs seniors Kelsey Thomas and Amy Ford each fouled out. Beyond that, key players like Seneca’s Sarah Hoover and Jo Beard, as well as Esry, played through four personals.
Hoover led Seneca — 10-16 on the season entering a semifinal Thursday against top seed Mount Vernon — with 21 points and Mailes added 19, highlighted by a halfcourt shot at the third quarter buzzer that gave the Lady Indians a 46-42 lead and the momentum entering the final 8 minutes. Platner joined her fellow juniors in double figures with 11 points and she hit a trio of trifectas.
Brittany Stevens and Taylor Robison added 13 and 11 points for El Dorado Springs, respectively, with Stevens sparking a 12-3 run at the end of the first half to get the Lady Bulldogs to 28-25 at the half after trailing 25-13 at one point. Robison, like Platner for Seneca, relied on the trifecta for the majority of her points.
El Dorado Springs finished its season 10-16.
Butler 58, East Newton 45
It seems at least one bad quarter curtailed the Lady Patriots throughout their 3-22 season.
On Monday, it was a slow first quarter that produced a 16-2 deficit for the Lady Patriots en route to a 13-point loss.
Senior guard Kinsey Sorrell — the Lady Patriots’ leading scorer this season — hit for a 2-all score, but the next time she reached the scoreboard, it was the second quarter and her basket ended a 18-0 stretch for the Lady Bears.
Hally Dolbow led Butler with 19 points and she had five rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Sierra Reynolds added 11 points, two rebounds, two assists, and six steals.
Butler improved to 18-7 entering Thursday’s semifinal against Lamar.
Mount Vernon 95, Diamond 17
The top-seeded Lady Mountaineers — defending district champions — absolutely showed no mercy against the winless Lady Wildcats in the opener Monday.
Mount Vernon maintained its backcourt pressure defense all the way through a 55-0 lead late in the second quarter.
The Lady Wildcats made it across halfcourt for the first time 1 minute, 30 seconds into the game and took their first shot 3:18 into the contest.
Diamond’s Alyssa Cain opened the scoring on a second-chance opportunity 1:43 before halftime.
Caitlin Hicks scored a game-high 21 points for Mount Vernon en route to reaching the milestone of 1,000 career points, and she still has one year of high school remaining. Lacy Stokes added 14 points, Cameron Call and Ashlyn McCanless 12 each, and Camryn Eldridge 11 for the 24-2 Lady Mountaineers, whose losses came against Strafford and Fair Grove.
Cain and Katie Langford each led the Lady Wildcats (0-27) with six points.