Basketball is back in Warren County.
The Morrison Ruritan basketball tournament tipped off Monday night with a pair of games. In the opener, the Dibrell Lady Wildcats defeated the Eastside Lady Bulldogs 29-21. In the nightcap, the Eastside Bulldogs bested the Irving College Tigers 41-23.
Monday’s opener pitted a pair of friendly rivals in the opening game, as Dibrell coach Dustin Curtis led his team against new Eastside girls coach Kyle Cannon. The duo have coached in several championships against one another, but this was the first with Cannon wearing Lady Bulldog blue after years at Morrison.
As usual, it was a hard-fought contest that went down to the wire.
Eastside trailed by five with under two minutes to go, but Macy Bush made it a one-bucket game when she banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1:38 to play.
The Lady Bulldogs got a stop and had a chance to tie, but Dibrell was able to force a stop and get the game under control. After a dead ball, Curtis made a swap, looking for an offensive boost from Annabella Culwell as she replaced defensive stalwart Aspen Adams.
The moved paid immediate dividends.
Culwell found an opening in the back half of the Eastside zone, giving her a short bank shot she knocked in with 54 seconds to play. On the ensuing inbound, Lily Rains snuck in and swiped the pass and went in for a layup.
The back-to-back baskets pushed the Dibrell lead to 27-21, ending any chance of an Eastside comeback. Gracie Randolph and Adams added late free throws to seal the victory and move Dibrell into a matchup with last year’s elementary champion, Morrison, Thursday in the semifinals.
Randolph played a huge part in keeping Dibrell in the game early, scoring 13 of her game-high 14 points in the first three quarters. Rains, who finished with seven points, carried the offense late. The point guard scored six in the fourth quarter, none bigger than her steal-and-score in the final minute.
Culwell finished with five points for Dibrell, while Emily Cantrell added two and Adams finished with one.
Kelly Bush scored 12 points for the Lady Bulldogs, followed by Macy Bush with five. Bebe Brackley added a 3-pointer in the first quarter for her only points, while Chloe Rogers scored one.
In the second game, Kade Hillis’ shooting and Eastside’s size was too much for Irving College.
Hillis scorched the nets for 14 points, including drilling three 3-pointers for the Bulldogs. His outside game was the perfect complement for the Eastside twin towers, Jaythan Boyd and Dylan Vandeveer.
Boyd used his athleticism to get easy layups, finishing with 12 points, while Vandeveer’s silky-smooth post game netted six points.
Hunter Knight added five points for Eastside, which built a 14-3 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. Hunter Mahler (three points) and Caden Bass (one point) also scored for the Bulldogs.
Corbin Felton led Irving College with seven points, followed by Trace Taylor and Spencer Stubblefield with five points apiece. Wyatt McCormick and Matthew Roller added four points each.
The Eastside boys will be looking to break Dibrell’s 34-game winning streak when the teams meet in the semifinals Thursday.