Jan. 19—ANDERSON — Anderson senior Ja'Ryeah Harrison learned earlier this week that she had suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee and would be done for the season.
But she had some unfinished business as her senior night was coming up Friday.
"She was sitting out at practice yesterday and my assistant coach suggested we get her a basket," Anderson coach Aaron Boyd said. "Originally I was going to start her and sub her out, but I spoke with McCutcheon's coach and they were on board to get her the basket."
The opening tip was controlled by Anderson senior Jacelyn Starks, leading to an uncontested layup for Harrison after a pregame agreement between the coaches as North Central Conference rival McCutcheon faced off with Anderson on Phil Buck Court Friday night.
When Starks passed to Harrison for the opening basket, the tears followed very quickly thereafter.
"I got a little choked up myself," Boyd said. "Those seniors—Harrison, Starks—they all mean a lot to me, I coached them for 3 years in middle school."
While the home team celebrated their seniors, a heralded Mavericks freshman stole the show as Lillie Graves poured in 35 points to lead McCutcheon to a 78-63 win over Anderson.
McCutcheon improved to 18-3 and clinched an outright North Central Conference championship at 9-0 in the team's final year in the league. Anderson fell to 7-13 and 3-5 in the NCC with their second straight loss.
Anderson will close out their NCC schedule Saturday afternoon at Logansport before wrapping up the regular season Thursday at the historic New Castle Fieldhouse against the Trojans.
McCutcheon built their lead to 39-18 in the second quarter on a basket by Aubrey Miller and maintained a healthy margin deep into the third quarter. Anytime Anderson showed any fight, Graves had the answer for the Mavericks.
But after Graves—ranked as the top Indiana player in her class—hit a wing jumper for a 48-28 lead, Anderson went to work and whittled away at the deficit.
Graves has already received a number of Division I offers, including Purdue, and has drawn interest from Butler and Indiana as well.
Back to back baskets by freshman Ariah Scott started the run and a pair of baskets by senior Gabby Douglass sandwiched around a 3-pointer by senior Talaysha Simonds capped a 15-2 run and pulled Anderson within 50-43.
The Mavericks lead fluctuated from seven to 10 points until Chloe Finney drilled a 3-point basket that sealed McCutcheon's win.
Douglass, playing her only year at Anderson after transferring from Muncie Central fouled out with 31.5 seconds left after tallying a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds along with five assists. Starks, playing on a bad ankle, mustered six points in her final game for Anderson.
Brown led Anderson with 20 points while Scott finished with a double-double of her own with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Simonds scored nine points in her final game for Anderson.
Contact Rob Hunt at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 765-640-4886.