Davis County junior post player Rylee Eakins wanted the ball inside at crunch time Saturday night, and her Mustang teammates were more than happy to get it to her.
And when they couldn’t, she went and got the ball herself.
Eakins scored 21 of Davis County's 28 second-half points —and all 12 of the Mustangs' points in the fourth quarter – and finished the game with 29 points and 13 rebounds to lift her team to a 52-42 Class 3A, Region 7 victory over Albia.
The point total was a career high for Eakins, and she did most of her damage in heavy traffic, among bigger and taller Albia players in the paint.
“Our coaching staff challenged Rylee to come out and dominate like we know she can,” said Davis County coach Dave Mason. “Credit our guards with feeding her the ball.”
With the victory, the Mustangs improved to 12-10 and assured themselves of a winning record this season. They also booked a road date with eighth-ranked Central Lee at Donnellson on Wednesday. Central Lee (18-3) advanced with a 60-42 win over Centerville on the other side of the bracket Saturday.
“I think we match up really well with them,” said Mason. “I told the girls they have the chance to play against a top 10 team.”
Albia closes out its season with a 4-18 record. Three of the Lady Dees’ losses were to Davis County.
“They sure didn’t play like a team with only four wins,” said Mason. “I’m definitely glad we don’t have to play them again.”
“I thought we came well-prepared,” said Albia coach Larry Achenbach. “Our effort was really good.”
The three contests between the two South Central Conference rivals this season were remarkably different. The first game was tightly-contested, with Davis County holding on in overtime. In the second game, Davis County won in a blowout. In the regional contest Saturday, the Mustangs pulled ahead by double-digits in the third quarter and looked ready to coast to victory.
The Lady Dees weren’t about to let their season end quietly.
“We were trying to work some clock with the lead, but they came out and really got after our guards,” said Mason. “They covered the passing lanes and made it tough for us.”
The contest was dead-even through most of the first half, as leads were exchanged several times. In the final two minutes, Davis County sophomore Cami Guiter hit a huge 3-pointer to break an 18-18 tie and spark a 6-1 Mustang run to end the half.
Up just five points at the half, Davis County used the inside-outside attack of Eakins and junior point guard Shelby Graves to extend their lead in the third quarter in businesslike fashion. Graves — who finished with 11 points and six assists — worked the outside and the baseline for baskets, and when the Albia defense collapsed on her, she found Eakins and sophomore Kate Birchmier down low.
Down by as many as 15 points, and trailing 40-27 after three quarters, Albia made one final run. Two quick steals by junior Brooke Bettis led to baskets, and a 3-pointer by sophomore Makenzie Griffin gave the Lady Dees new life. Albia cut the lead to seven points, and had an opportunity to cut it to five with under two minutes to play.
“We challenged them at a time-out to be more aggressive,” said Achenbach. “I thought the kids responded to that.”
“If Albia would have hit a couple more 3-pointers, it would have been a whole different ball game,” said Mason.
But Eakins simply took over after that, scoring nine of her points and grabbing seven of her rebounds in the final five minutes of the game.
“When Rylee gets her hands on the ball, you know she’s going to go hard with it,” said Mason.
“Eakins played a great game for them,” added Achenbach. “She really made a lot of things happen.”
Bettis finished with 14 points to lead Albia, and she also contributed four steals and five rebounds. Griffin also had four steals for the Lady Dees. Junior Katie Dyson worked the inside for 13 points and five rebounds for Albia, who will lose just three seniors to graduation – Jennah McLain, Kylie Peterson and Kristyn Garver.
Other Class 3A, Region 7 action on Saturday saw Chariton’s season end with a 62-34 loss at South Central co-champ Clarke. Senior Miranda Davis scored 10 points to lead the Chargers, whose season ends with a 9-12 overall record.
Davis County 52, Albia 42
ALB 10 9 8 15 – 42
D.C. 13 11 16 12 – 52
Albia (42) – Brooke Bettis 14, Katie Dyson 13, Makenzie Griffin 6, Kristyn Garver 4, Kylie Peterson 2, Sarah Clarke 2, Taegen Bossard 1. Totals 17 FG 7-17 42.
3-point goals – 1 (Griffin). Rebounds – 20 (Dyson 5, Bettis 5). Assists – 7 (Dyson 2). Steals – 10 (Griffin 4, Bettis 4). Total fouls – 11.
Davis County (52) – Rylee Eakins 29, Shelby Graves 11, Ally McClure 5, Kate Birchmier 4, Cami Guiter 3. Totals 21 FG 7-14 52.
3-point goals – 3 (Guiter, Graves, McClure). Rebounds – 29 (Eakins 14). Assists – 12 (Graves 6, McClure 4). Steals – 6 (McClure 2).Total fouls – 13.