A 20-6 run to end the game helped the Lady Lions rally past visiting East Central 54-48 in a battle in Memorial Gym Saturday of the two top teams in the EIAC.
A pair of scoring droughts by the Lady Trojans stalled their momentum after taking a 33-30 lead at the half and a 42-34 lead with four minutes left in the third quarter.
After a time out at the four minute mark, the Lady Trojans did not score again in the quarter.
Following a 3-pointer by Clair Volpenhein with 6:40 to go in the fourth quarter giving the Lady Trojans a 45-36 lead, East Central scored just three more points the rest of the game.
Rushville’s Mackenzie Campbell matched Volpenhein’s triple to start a 7-0 Rushville run. Campbell and Makayla Herbert both hit 2-of-2 from the free throw line to cut the deficit to 45-43.
East Central’s Brooke Packer hit a free throw with 5:22 remaining to push the lead back to three, but the Lady Lions responded with a 10-0 run to take control. All 10 of the points came from the charity stripe. Campbell made 6-of-6 and Keragan Niehoff and Herbert were both 2-of-2 as the Lady Lions led 53-46.
Two Volpenhein free throws capped the scoring for the Lady Trojans and Herbert finished the game at the line as the Lady Lions won 54-48.
“I thought our kids showed a lot of toughness tonight,” Coach Melissa Marlow said. “Our defense won us the game. We were down nine in the fourth quarter and the girls kept chipping away. We hit 15-of-16 free throws in the fourth quarter. That shows mental toughness.
“East Central is a quality basketball team that is well coached. We knew this was a must win game for us to have a chance at the conference championship. We’ve now put our fate in our own hands,” Coach Marlow added.