CALEDONIA – Ashley Mickan displayed versatility to help propel South Iron to its third Valley Invitational Championship title against West County over the past four years.
Mickan drained three shots from beyond the arc, and scored from various locations on the floor to record 18 points while adding 10 rebounds and four steals in a 58-42 victory.
The Lady Panthers created separation late in the third quarter by spurring a 12-0 run with stingy defense. Michaela Ayers highlighted the run with a falling layup on a 3-point play to gain a 40-34 advantage with 3:12 on the clock.
South Iron (3-1) consistently forced turnovers and ran well in transition to widen the gap.
The Lady Bulldogs last won the tournament with a 53-47 triumph against South Iron in 2015.
Cheyenne Young dropped in a fast-break layup with four seconds remaining in the third quarter to bring West County (2-1) within 45-36. Young provided a constant scoring threat down low with 12 points plus six rebounds.
Jada Brooks helped South Iron maintain its advantage in the fourth quarter with a potent inside attack. She tallied seven of her 15 points during the fourth, and finished with 10 rebounds in the win.
Ayers executed an effective drive-and-kick offense down the stretch to create open looks for her teammates, and frequently earned trips to the foul line to accumulate 12 points.
South Iron began with an aggressive and fast-paced offense. Mickan recorded her first steal and proceeded to knock down her first 3-pointer in transition to gain an 8-2 lead two minutes into the contest.
However, West County increased its own tempo to square the score 16-16 at the end of the first quarter behind the inside production from Young.
The Lady Bulldogs relied on depth and ball movement to remain competitive as nine players notched at least a point. Allee Drennen had seven points with six rebounds, while Dori McRaven also contributed seven points.
The score was tied again after Alyssa Roever and Ayers exchanged 3-pointers during the first two minutes of the second period.
Ivy Meinershagen converted her first points by capping a fast break with a layup to expand a slight 24-20 advantage with 3:20 remaining in the second period.
Young blocked a shot by Ayers into the West County bench two minutes later, but the Lady Panthers held a 29-26 edge at the break after Brooks completed a 3-point play through three defenders with 27 seconds left.
Young had an opportunity to even the score at the buzzer with a transition layup, but the attempt rolled around the rim and fell out.
Callie Miller added eight points and five rebounds in the win.