Wildcats use transition game to beat Warriors

Fort Payne's Kylie Neil (25) and Mattie Prewett (14) go after a rebound against Cherokee County's Kayleigh Hunter during the second half in Fort Payne on Friday night.

FORT PAYNE ­—The Fort Payne girls basketball team capitalized on some second-half transition opportunities and extended its lead en route to a 55-35 victory against Cherokee County on senior night Friday.

“We got off to a slow start but played better in the second half,” Fort Payne coach Steve Sparks said.

The Wildcats (20-7) used a 7-3 run in the third quarter to extend a 20-19 halftime lead to 35-25 heading into the fourth. 

Kylie Neil scored a layup off a steal, Brylan Gray made a jump shot and Logan Neil added a 3-pointer off an inbounds pass to push Fort Payne’s lead to 29-19 with 4 minutes left in the third. Senior Kiuna Johnson assisted Kylie Neil with a layup, before adding a layup of her own, and senior Mattie Prewett found fellow senior Isabelle Goggans for an open jumper to close the stretch.

“We had a few transition baskets, and anytime you can score a layup instead of getting  a perimeter shot, it leads to better scoring chances,” Sparks said.

Kylie Neil’s jumper with 2:30 remaining in regulation capped a 6-0 Fort Payne run that made it 46-28. Prewett assisted Logan Neil with a 3-pointer, before converting a three-point play during the run.

Cherokee (16-12) took a 6-0 lead behind a layup and a pair of free throws from Jordyn Starr. A free throw from Prewett ended Fort Payne’s scoring drought with 5:14 to play in the opening period.

The Warriors got the bulk of second-chance opportunities early.

“You can’t win a game against a solid team by giving them additional looks at the basket,” Sparks said.

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