By Thomas Sellers Jr.
It was the Britt Stanford/Caroline Jacobs Era of Brighton Lady Cardinal Basketball.
Prince William was still engaged to Kate Middleton over in England. Even the terrorist Osama bin Laden was still alive.
That was the last time the Brighton Lady Cardinals won a District 13-3A contest. Brighton’s latest chance to end the drought came Friday night in the Brighton Gymnasium with the Hardin County Lady Tigers coming to town.
Led by seniors Aubree Jones and Lindsey Morrissett, Brighton finally experienced the thrill of victory against a league opponent winning 48-45.
“January 2011 was the last time,” Brighton Head Coach David Wampler said. “It feels awesome to get this monkey off our backs especially when you’re missing a starter. MG (Smith) has the flu. That’s our second leading scorer and probably our second leading rebounder. Then one of our seniors quit this week, which was our seventh man.
“We had Haley, who is a sophomore, come in and make two big free throws to win it,” he added. “The big thing is they are starting to believe. We have to keep on pushing forward. They play hard. We’re not pretty but we sure do play hard.”
Brighton played beautifully for the first 14 minutes of the game. The Lady Cardinals jumped out to a 23-9 lead midway through the second quarter.
Jones sparked her team in the first quarter with a jumper and nailing a pair of three-pointers.
“Aubree is just a winner,” Wampler said. “She’s learned what it takes to win in golf. She’s taking that attitude into basketball. She knows after this year she’s done with basketball. But its something she wants to do and have fun at. She’s so serious and her seriousness has rubbed off onto the younger kids.”
Jones is a two-time State champion in Class 3A Golf. Her distance-game was on par in the first quarter helping Brighton to a 12-4 lead over the Lady Tigers.
The Lady Cardinals outscored Hardin County 9-5 in the first few minutes of the second quarter starting with a T. Brown three-pointer. Then Lady Cardinal Sylvia Jones made the score 21-9 hitting a triple.
Onyx Magno made the score 23-9 when she stole the ball and raced to the other end for a layup. But the perfect storm was brewing for the Lady Tigers to make a comeback.
With Smith already out because of illness, Morrissett and fellow post player Kailey Hunt were on the bench with fouls.
At one point Wampler featured a lineup of T. Brown, Aubree Jones, Sylvia Jones, Albanie Dunn and Haley Simpson.
“I’m playing four guards and a sophomore post,” he noted. “Even though my three guards have played a lot, my sophomore post and young guard haven’t. And they had the height advantage. They were physical crashing the boards. And they took advantage of what we didn’t have at the moment.”
Hardin County cut the deficit to 23-18 at halftime. But the end of the third quarter the game was deadlocked at 31-31.
The Lady Tigers grabbed a quick 33-31 advantage in the fourth quarter. Brighton regained the lead at 35-34.
The Lady Cardinals received a big shot from Morrissett with the senior forward hitting a long range triple to make the score 38-34.
“She’s been more than a positive player,” Wampler said. “She’s lodged more minutes probably than anybody. She’s leading the team in rebounding. She puts it up every night. She’s spent a lot of time this fall working on her shot. You can tell because she knocking them down. She hit an NBA three tonight.”
The Lady Cardinals were ahead 40-35 later in the period. After a Lady Tiger basket, Sylvia Jones made a layup to make the tally 42-37.
Once again Hardin County trimmed the deficit to one possession. Morrissett came up clutch again with a layup to make the score 44-39.
In the final minute of the game Hardin County only trailed 44-43. It was time for Morrissett to hit another bucket. Her late shot made the score 46-43.
With 6.2 second remaining in the contest and the score 46-45, Simpson iced the game for Brighton with a pair of foul shots.