Jan. 25—FAIRMOUNT — During halftime Thursday night, Alexandria coach Mickey Hosier confronted his team, believing it should be better than 12 points ahead of Madison-Grant.
"I actually didn't think we played awful. We just didn't make a lot of shots in the first half," he said. "I challenged them at halftime, and one of the things we've been happy about over the past month is that, when we challenge them, they've responded. Some of our losses, we've had those lulls with scoring droughts, so we're trying to be consistent throughout the game."
The following 16 minutes of play was as one-sided as a fan could imagine.
Jacklynn Hosier led three Tigers in double figures with 21 points while grabbing 16 rebounds, Alexandria outscored the Argylls 34-3 in the second half and rolled to a 65-22 win in the regular season finale for both teams.
Alexandria (18-4) has won four games in a row and nine of its last 10 outings. It will face the sixth-ranked Lapel Bulldogs in the first round of Class 2A Sectional 40 at Lapel on Wednesday evening. Lapel is responsible for two of Alexandria's losses this season.
Spurred by the loss of senior guard Payton Pulley to injury, Lily Harpe has turned up her play of late, averaging 10 points and 5 rebounds over the last four contests. Against the Argylls, she flirted with a quadruple-double, finishing with 12 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and seven steals.
"Mickey was talking about playing for (Pulley), and I felt like I needed to do that," she said. "She was one of our main shooters, so I've been working on my shot so I can step up."
She maintains team confidence is high despite losses of 10 and 17 points to Lapel earlier this season. Both games — like Wednesday's meeting — have been at Lapel.
"We feel good. We've been practicing hard," Harpe said. "We've been focusing on Lapel because they are one of our biggest losses this year."
It was a third player in double figures Thursday who provided the Tigers the separation they needed after halftime.
Junior Rylie Kellams scored the first two baskets of the second half — just as she had done in the first half — for a 35-19 Alexandria lead. Then it was fellow junior Kylan McFall's turn to singe the nets.
McFall made three of four 3-point attempts over the next four Alexandria possessions and finished with 15 points — all on 3-point shots — as the Tigers sprinted out to a 46-19 lead in the third.
"When Kylan makes a couple threes and Trinity (Ford) makes a couple threes — although it didn't happen for Trinity tonight — we feel like we're pretty good," Coach Hosier said. "We feel like we've got a pretty good chance. I think Kylan is playing with a lot of confidence right now."
Senior Dannika Horn followed with a basket for Madison-Grant, which proved to be the only second-half field goal for the Argylls. They managed just three points total after halftime as the Tigers triggered the running clock on a Hosier layup late in the third quarter for a 57-21 lead.
"Offensively and defensively, I think we just got tired," M-G coach Jace Martin said. "There was a lot of adrenaline, a lot of excitement and we played really well in the first half, so we just got tired."
Horn was one of five seniors honored prior to the game by Madison-Grant, along with players Katie Stowers and Maddy Moore and managers Gage Harris and Brooke Fields. Moore finished with eight points and five rebounds, Stowers had eight points and Horn had four points and five rebounds. Fields played 11 games for the Argylls a year ago but could not play this year due to injury.
They've been a special group for the second-year Argylls coach.
"I've said this a bunch, but when I took over in the summer of 2022, those three were huge. They were at everything," Martin said. "They've been consistent, reliable and they seem to enjoy the game, which is huge. We're really going to miss them."
The Argylls drew a first-round bye into the Sectional 39 semifinals at Elwood and will play Feb. 2 against the winner of Tuesday's first-round game between Eastbrook (20-1) and Elwood (3-18).
Alexandria, meanwhile, will prepare for a third opportunity against the Bulldogs in Wednesday's first-round game. The teams also met in last season's sectional semifinal, a two-point win for the Bulldogs on their way to the state finals.
"I think we haven't played our best against them," Coach Hosier said. "I'd like to see our best game against them and see where we stand. We feel like we're a good team. We know they're a good team. They have our full focus, and we're excited about it."
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