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Lady Warriors Fall To Bayard in MAC Final

Warriors Defeat Potter-Dix in Third Place Match

BRIDGEPORT-- Leyton's Lady Warrior team made it through the initial rounds of the MAC tournament with easy wins; a 76-to-8 rout of the Minatare Lady Indians in the first round on Tuesday and a 51-to-10 romp over Garden County in the semi-finals on Thursday. But they were pitted against Bayard in the championship game on Saturday in Bridgeport, and Bayard also strolled into the championship game with two easy wins over Banner County and South Platte. Bayard came into Saturday's contest with just one loss, against the powerhouse Lady Raiders of Sidney. Leyton also came into the championship game with just one loss - but that was against Bayard just nine days previous. The Lady Warriors struggled at home against Bayard on January 11, and hoped that a change of venue would change their fortunes against the tall and athletic Lady Tigers.

The game started with Bayard hitting the first field goal, but then Leyton's outstanding junior guard Zaili Benish buried a three pointer and was fouled. She drained the free throw to complete the four-point play, and Leyton held an early 4-to-2 lead. Bayard tied it at 4-to-4, Leyton hit another field goal, then Benish connected on another three pointer to give the Lady Warriors a 9-to-4 lead, and a promising start. Bayard chipped away at the lead, and tied the game a 9-to-9. After a Leyton basket, tying the game at 11-to-11, Bayard took the lead and never trailed again in the contest.

Leading 16-to-14 at the end of the first quarter, the second quarter turned the game for the Bayard squad. Bayard opened the second quarter with a 17-to-0 run, shutting down the Leyton offense by limiting them to just one shot per offensive set, dominating under the boards, and getting good looks at the basket. The Bayard defense did a great job forcing Leyton to take outside shots while out-hustling the Lady Warriors on the court. Leyton was only able to put up two points late in the quarter, and as time wound down, Benish passed on a three-point shot and tried to drive the lane for two points. She ran into a wall of Bayard defenders, was clearly fouled while trying to shoot, but no foul was called by the referees. Time expired in the half, and as the teams retreated to the locker rooms for the intermission, a clearly frustrated Leyton Head Coach Jed Benish gave an earful to the referees on the no-call at the end of the period while walking off the court.

The Leyton girls were able to regroup in the third quarter and play a much better period, but even putting up 19 points in the quarter against Bayard's 15 still had them trailing by a big margin going into the fourth quarter. Leyton kept up the momentum, chipped away at the lead, and played good defense. Leyton was able to trim the Bayard lead to nine points early in the fourth quarter, but could not get any closer. Leyton junior forward Sydney Fortune fouled out at 4:14 of the fourth quarter, allowing Bayard to put some more distance between the teams, and the game ended in a 60-to-48 win for the Lady Tigers. Leyton suffered its second loss of the season, again to the talented and physical Bayard squad. Benish led the scoring for Leyton with 26 points, and senior Claire Watchorn contributed 10 points in the loss. It looks like Leyton has a good chance of running the table to end their regular season, and is the favorite to take the D2-11 Subdistrict title.

For the boys' squad, the Warriors started off the MAC tournament with an easy win over Minatare on Monday, 57-to-21, but were surprised by the Garden County team on Thursday. On paper, this matchup looked to favor Leyton, but the Garden County boys played smart and limited their mistakes. The Eagles did a good job of getting good looks and scoring on high-percentage shots, while the Warriors struggled to put the ball in the basket. The Eagles built a 32-to-21 lead at the half, then a strong fourth quarter put the game out of reach, and the Eagles advanced to the championship game with a 54-to-37 win over Leyton. Leyton was relegated to the third place game Saturday afternoon in Bridgeport, and faced Potter-Dix for the third time this season. The teams split their first two meetings, and the rubber match was a close game until Leyton was able to build a seven point lead going into the fourth quarter. The Warriors were able to hold off any Potter-Dix rally in the final frame, and took the victory by a final score of 46-to-37.

The Warrior teams were scheduled to host the Banner County teams on Tuesday in Dalton.


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