By Joshua Kraeger
Special to the Daily
Lovejoy's three-game winning streak was threatened Friday night by a talented Mount Zion squad, but it was the Wildcats who emerged victorious with a 65-61 victory at home over the visiting Bulldogs.
Lovejoy came into the game with one of the best records in the region, while Mount Zion came in looking to prove its legitimacy. In the first quarter, it seemed like the Bulldogs might accomplish that mission and upset the Wildcats.
Mount Zion played a solid quarter on both the offensive and defensive end, scoring 12 points and holding Lovejoy's high-octane offense to a mere seven points. However, the Bulldogs would not hold the lead for long.
Lovejoy came roaring back into the game, spurred by an 11-point outburst in the quarter from junior point guard Jermaine Hough. Seven of those points were scored from the free-throw line, giving Lovejoy a lead and simultaneously putting the Bulldogs in foul trouble.
The Wildcats seemed to hold the advantage heading into halftime, but Mount Zion struck back, led by eight points from senior shooting guard Demarcus Robinson. His efforts tied the game at 32 going into halftime, and set the stage for a spectacular second half.
Lovejoy came out hoping to put some quick points on the board, since junior center Justin Tuoyo had re-entered the game after foul trouble kept him on the bench for most of the first half.
However, he was only able to score four points in the third quarter and his play was outshadowed by the play of Mount Zion's senior small forward Austin Smith. Smith scored nine points in the quarter, giving the Bulldogs a four-point lead entering the final quarter.
The fourth quarter was a defensive struggle between the two teams, but it was Lovejoy whose lockdown defense prevailed. The Wildcats took the lead with a little over three minutes left in the game, and their defense held the lead, despite a late threat by the Bulldogs.
Hough led Lovejoy with 18 points and five assists, while Tuoyo contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out in the waning seconds of the game.
Lovejoy (15-2) will look to continue its winning streak against Luella Saturday night while Mount Zion (2-10) will look to bounce back against rival Jonesboro Friday night at home.
Lovejoy 53 Mount Zion 48 (girls)
The Lady Wildcats struck swiftly, with junior shooting guard Navilla Paul scoring eight points in the opening minutes of the game en route to leading the Lady Wildcats to a 53-48 victory over the Lady Bulldogs.
Lovejoy played consistently over the first three quarters, outscoring the Lady Bulldogs 39-25, but in the fourth quarter Mount Zion came storming back. The Lady Bulldogs scored 23 points in the final quarter and outscoring Lovejoy by nine but it was not enough as the Lady Wildcats walked away with the victory.
Paul led the way for Lovejoy, scoring 13 points, while recording 10 rebounds, six steals, three blocks and three assists. Senior center Kaelah Thomas also chipped in with 12 points and three rebounds.
The Lady Bulldogs were led by senior small forward Camille Hankerson, who scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds.
Lovejoy (8-9) will look to continue its five-game winning streak when it travels Luella Saturday night. Mount Zion (3-14) will continue searching for a win when it hosts Jonesboro Friday night on teacher appreciation night.