In its second game back in action after a brief holiday break, the Aurora girls' basketball team picked up a crucial home win to build some confidence for the next part of the season. Coach DJ Gutscher's Lady Houns defeated McDonald County 37-32 to move to 3-7 on the year, the middle of a three-game home stand for the squad.
After a 34-29 loss to Hollister the night before, the Lady Houns started slow in last Friday's matchup with the Lady Mustangs, as the visitors took a 6-0 lead to start the game.
Turnovers hurt the home team early, but once Aurora slowed the pace and began to play with patience, the shots started to fall. Junior Kaysie Carr got the Lady Houns on the board with four minutes to go in the first quarter, and before long the game was tied at six. A bucket by junior Chloe Ryan put Aurora ahead 8-6 with 30 seconds to go, and the defense kept the visitors off the board for the remaining time in the period.
That defense was big in the second quarter, holding Mac County to just two points before the halftime buzzer. Aurora's patient offense did enough to increase the lead to nine points, as the teams went into the break with the scoreboard reading 17-8 in the home team's favor.
Not ready to go away quietly, the Lady Mustangs came out hot in the third quarter, scoring twice in quick succession to make it 17-12 right out of the gate and forcing an Aurora timeout.
Two minutes later, however, the Lady Houns still had not found the bucket and the visiting team managed to tie the game at 17 after a pair of free throws.
But Aurora would be jolted awake quickly, as an Elizabeth Martin basket regained the lead with 5:12 in the quarter, and the only points from there to the next buzzer came on a pair of Ashley Vaught treys.
Leading 25-17 with one quarter to play, the Lady Houns increased the lead to 10 points early in the fourth. That margin would not last long, but the Lady Mustangs couldn't manage to get closer than within three points of the Aurora lead, committing enough turnovers to keep the home team firmly ahead. A pair of late free throws by Vaught sealed the five-point win and Aurora's first victory of 2019.
Martin led the Lady Houns with 16 points on the night, followed by a 10-point effort from Vaught. Kortney Juracek finished with six points, while Carr and Ryan scored three and two, respectively.
Aurora will begin a string of away games lasting until February this week as they travel to Springfield Catholic on Thursday. They'll play again on January 21 at East Newton.