Doc Smith, Sports Correpondent
Jacksonville Daily Progress
BULLARD — For several years, Rusk and Bullard were in the same district and created it’s own Battle of Hwy. 69.
Although not a league match up, any time the two teams compete, the East Texas roots come out and it’s always a hotly contested battle.
The Bullard Panthers were up to defending home court with a three-game sweep on Tuesday night at anther Gymnasium.
The Lady Panthers rode 20-points and eight rebounds from Lexi Kirgan to a 64-36 thrashing in the first game. The Bullard boy’s followed up with a commanding 74-56, win over the Eagles in the nightcap in 3-point showcase.
Bullard 64, Rusk 36
The Lady Panthers jumped out to a 17-4 lead after one period and never looked back.
Bullard post, Lexi Kirgan controlled the inside with 20-points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots in the win.
“We needed that one bad,” said Chris Hightower the girl’s assistant coach. “We have been struggling the past few weeks with injuries and some girl’s being sick but it’s always good to get to play at home, the home crowd is always a big boost.
“They lost one of their big players, and that was unfortunate early on, and we got a great game out of our big girl, Lexi Kirgan.
“We had several players in double-digits and we were really pleased with the defensive effort, “ Hightower added.
The tenacious Bullard defense forced Rusk to live or die by the 3-pointer, and Rusk could not answer the challenge.
Lexi Abercrombie nailed her only 3-pointer of the game to push Bullard to a 17-2 lead in the opening stanza. Bullard point guard, Taylor Frederick put an emphasis before the halftime buzzer with a 3-pointer, and a 39-16, Bullard cushion.
Kirgan had 15 of her 20-points in the opening half, as well as five rebounds, two blocked shots, and two steals at intermission.
Bridgette Taylor added eight of her 17-points in the first half, making seven assists in the game to go with five steals.
Trailing from the get-go, the Lady Eagles got gutsy performances from Keanna Starling with eight points and eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Chelsie Daniels had – six hard-earned points, as did Destiny Morris.
Bullard 64, Rusk 36
Rusk 4 12 6 14 - 36
Bullard 17 22 14 11 - 64
RUSK- Jaquelle Dyess, 2; Destiny Freeney, 12; Rachel Miller, 2; Destiny Morris, 6; Chelsie Daniels, 6; Keanna Starling, 8.
BULLARD – Taylor Frederick, 3; Brittany Hinton, 13; Bridgette Taylor, 17; Lexi Abercrombie, 6; Madison Slayter, 5; Lexi Kirgan, 20.
Bullard 74, Rusk 56
The sharp-shooting Bullard Panthers got big in the winning groove in big fashion, posting a 74-56 win over Rusk on Tuesday night in a girl’s boy’s doubleheader. The game originally scheduled for Tuesday to lack of referees.
Panther Slater Rodberg could not miss, knocking down to early second half, 3-pointers and running off eight consecutive free throws to set the second half tempo.
The opening belonged to Bullard’s Hunter Landrum scoring 11 of his 13-points in the first half, leading Bullard to a 38-20.
“We shot really well tonight and we jumped out to a big lead,” said third-year head coach, Shane Chambless. “We missed our point guar a little bit the second half, but I am proud of our guys of stepping up and finishing the game.”
Panther point guard, Landon Beckham went down hard with some neck and shoulder soreness, but is expected back in the lineup next game.
Beckham only had four points, but his five rebounds, three steals, and five assists in one-half a game set the stage for the Panthers early surge.
Rusk got a game-high, 24-points from point guard, Jadarian Skinner as he totaled out with four, 3-pointers and a strong, 8-of-11 at the free throw line down the fourth half stretch.
The two teams combined for nine 3-pointers combined as Bullard added one-more point to the lead and a 57-38 count going into the final stanza.
All four Skinner 3-pointers came in the furious final quarter, only to fall up short.
Eagle, Jayson Anderson canned two treys and scored all eight of his points in the final half.
Skinner score 10 of his 24 in the final eight minutes.
Bullard 74, Rusk 56
Rusk 10 10 18 18 - 56
Bullard 17 21 19 17 - 74
RUSK – Jadarian Skinner, 24; Chase Stanley, 5; Jay Johnson, 1; Ray Foreman, 3; Isiah Francis, ; Taylon Sturns, 4; Jayson Anderson, 8; Daron Neal, 2.
BULLARD – Travis Kotzur, 1; Andrew Thomas, 13; Zach Eshberger, 9; Slater Rodberg, 14; Major Tennison, 8; Landen Beckham, 4; Drew Gurley, 2; Kyler Whatley, 0; Hunter Landrum, 13; Eric Barb, 10.
THREE-POINT GOALS – R: Skinner 4, Stanley, Francis, Anderson 2. B: Thomas 4, Eschberger 3, Rodburg 2, Landrum. .