Lunsford sparks Rosspoint in championship game win over Evarts


Whitney Friend

The Rosspoint Lady Cats claimed the county seventh- and eighth-grade championship Saturday with a 45-30 victory over Evarts. Team members include, from left, front row: Addison Gray, Braylee Engle, Sophie Day, Lindsey Skidmore and Aubrey Hensley; back row: head coach Rob McHargue, Peyton Lunsford, Kaitlyn Daniels, Brianna Howard, Sienna Cox, Serissa Cox, Harleigh Vanover, bookkeeper Kim Hensley and assistant coach John Simpson.

By Jarrod Sherman, Contributing Writer

Rosspoint coach Rob McHargue called point guard Peyton Lunsford “a machine,” but in the Harlan County seventh- and eighth-grade championship game Saturday night, she was merely part of a machine – specifically, a spark plug.

Lunsford, an eighth-grader, contributed six points and several key defensive plays in the third quarter after missing much of the first half due to foul trouble, as the Lady Cats turned a three-point halftime deficit into an eight-point lead. Rosspoint, the fourth seed in the tournament, claimed its first championship since 2015 with a 45-30 victory over sixth-seeded Evarts after the two sets of Lady Cats knocked out the top two seeds in the semifinals.

Rosspoint got heroic contributions from several players. Seventh-grader Lindsey Skidmore scored a game-high 15 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the final quarter as the Lady Cats pulled away. Harleigh Vanover (nine points) and Kaitlyn Daniels (six points) provided solid play inside and several offensive rebounds.

“Peyton is a machine; I don’t think she gets tired,” McHargue said. “Lindsey finally stepped up and hit some big shots tonight. I knew she could do it. I think we shoot better here on the high school floor.”

Evarts was led by eighth-grader Ashley Preston with 12 points. Hannah Kirby and Drucilla Brown each added nine.

Evarts grabbed an early lead with a four-point play by Preston and a basket by Kirby. Rosspoint battled back to the tie the game late in the first quarter, but Preston’s second 3-pointer of the period gave Evarts a 9-6 lead.

A 7-0 Rosspoint run midway through the second quarter put the Lady Cats ahead 15-12, but Preston and Brown combined for six free throws to Evarts back on top. Evarts led 20-17 at halftime.

Rosspoint took control in the third quarter as Evarts struggled to find the basket. Rosspoint outscored Evarts 15-4 in the quarter as Lunsford scored six points and Vanover added four.

“Defense is what won us this tournament,” McHargue said. “Peyton and Harleigh, their defense was awesome. I had planned on playing Cawood, and we were planning on running a triangle-and-two with those two playing a man-to-man. But I had to change it up, and they stepped up.”

Skidmore’s first 3-pointer in the fourth quarter pushed the Lady Cats’ lead to 37-24. Evarts pulled back within 10 after a three-point play by Preston, but Skidmore answered a few seconds later with another 3 to stop Evarts’ momentum.

The game marked Evarts’ fifth consecutive appearance in the title game, with Rosspoint tallying its third championship appearance in that span. The game closed the books on a highly unusual season that featured a late start and a lengthy layoff due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a tournament that underscored the parity in the county basketball landscape.

“We started off kind of slow, with COVID and time off and being in and out of practice. But I knew that, once we got going, we’d have a shot at this. Everybody had a shot; it was wide open,” McHargue said.
The second-seeded Cawood Lady Comets claimed third place in the tournament with a 41-30 win over top-seeded James A. Cawood.

Cheyanne Rhymer scored 21 points and Maddi Middleton added 14 to lead Cawood.

The Trojanettes were led by Leah Davis with 10 points.
Rosspoint (45) – Lyndsey Skidmore 15, Peyton Lunsford 12, Harleigh Vanover 9, Kaitlyn Daniels 6, Brianna Howard 3.
Evarts (30) – Ashley Preston 12, Hannah Kirby 9, Druesilla Brown 9.
Cawood (41)  – Cheyanne Rhymer 21, Maddi Middleton 14, Alley Stewart 3, Skyler Phillips 2, Lexi Dean 1.
JACES (30) – Leah Davis 10, Lacey Robinson 7, Juleea Smith 5, Kaylissa Daniels 2, Mallory Long 2, Abby Green 2, Madison Daniels 2.