Hector junior point guard Kasey Rook burst on the scene last Friday on homecoming in Quitman, pouring in 17 points in the first quarter alone as the Lady Wildcats jumped out to a 20-2 lead and held off the hard-charging Lady Bulldogs 57-51 in the 4-2A East Conference opener.
The Lady Bulldogs took an early 2-0 lead on a putback by forward Roseanna Ezell but Hector scored 20 unanswered to close the first quarter, including a stretch of 11 consecutive from Rook, who finished with a game-high 30 points.
With Hector leading 7-2 midway through the first quarter, Rook drove left side and hit a bank shot, then the smooth left-handed guard drilled a three-pointer up top. Following a Quitman timeout, Rook continued to dominate, driving the lane on two straight possessions for a layup, turning the second drive into a three-point play.
Down 20-2 entering the second quarter, Quitman began to whittle away at its deficit, outscoring Hector 19-13 in the second quarter as guard Katelyn Houston caught fire, ripping two quick three-pointers, including one off an assist from point guard Alex Bohannan, who was crowned homecoming queen earlier in the evening.
Houston cut Hector's lead to 28-14 with a 19-foot jumper from left elbow then Bohannan found forward Raven Ide running the floor for a layup but Hector guard Brittany Dixon sandwiched four points around a leaner by Ezell.
Late in the first half, Ide scored from right block off an assist from guard Brooke Walters, slicing the Lady Wildcats' lead to 33-21 at intermission.
Ide scored from right block early in the third quarter and Ezell added a stick back as Quitman seemed poised for a comeback with Hector, which only had six players, gasping for air as the Lady Bulldogs turned up the defensive pressure.
Following a Hector timeout with 5:45 left in the third quarter, Rook delivered a three-pointer from right corner but Quitman post player Maddie Holland got a putback before Dixon answered with a driving layup.
Hector forward Lauryn Tereza scored off an inbound play while drawing a foul and she completed the three-point play as the Lady Wildcats pushed their lead to 41-27.
After Ezell and Hector post player Cheyenne Brown exchanged rebound baskets, Quitman post player Shayna Burklow snared an offensive rebound and scored.
Rook responded with a layup off an inbound play before Burklow turned an offensive rebound into a pair of free throws and Houston swiped a steal that led to a stick back by Burklow.
With 35.9 seconds left in the third quarter, Rook canned a free throw, extending Hector's lead to 46-35 entering the final eight minutes of play.
The Lady Bulldogs opened the fourth quarter with four in a row as Ezell used a spin move to get free in the lane for a layup and Bohannan turned a steal into a pair of free throws.
Page 2 of 2 - With Hector stalling throughout the final for minutes, forcing Quitman to foul, Dixon sank two free throws, giving
Hector a nine-point cushion before Ezell and Rook traded foul shots.
Burklow then nailed a three-pointer from right wing and Ezell flipped an offensive rebound into a free as Quitman pulled within five, but Dixon hit a foul shot and Rook sank two more from the stripe with 1:18 remaining.
Trailing 53-44, Burklow made two free throws to keep the Lady Bulldogs' hopes alive, but Dixon calmly hit two free throws before Ide scored from left block. Dixon made another foul shot and Rook turned a steal into a free throw, pushing Hector's lead to nine with 32.8 seconds left to play.
Despite playing with only four players after three fouled out and one suffered an injury, Quitman battled to the end as Houston ripped a three-pointer up top, setting the final at 57-51.
Following Rook's game-high 30 points, Dixon scored 15 for Hector (3-4, 1-0). Ezell and Burklow each scored 13 points for Quitman, while Houston had 11 and Ide finished with nine.