Using a big third quarter that included a 10-0 run, the Lady Cougars broke open a tight struggle and went on to win their 11th straight 12th District Tournament Championship, 65-58 over Edmonson County Thursday night in Cougar Gym.
Grayson County (18-11) put three players into double figures led by sophomore Hannah Saltsman’s game-high 20 points, which included three three-pointers. Junior Grace White recorded her 11th double-double of the season, tallying 19 points and 10 rebounds while adding five assists. Senior Sarah Pierce hit three threes and finished with 11 points.
Edmonson County (17-12) came into the game as one of the hottest teams in the 3rd Region, having won eight in a row, including Monday’s 51-34 win over Butler County in the opening round of the tournament.
The first period opened with the two teams going at each other tooth and nail. There were two ties and two lead changes before the Lady Cougars put together four straight points to open an 11-7 lead at the 2:40 mark. Edmonson’s Peyton Martin hit a pair of free throws with 2:30 left to cut it to two points, but Hannah Saltsman followed with a three-pointer to put Grayson County up by five, 14-9 with 2:05 remaining.
Jhonna Basil hit a short jumper with 1:53 left before Allie Horton hit another Grayson County three to put the Lady Cougars up by six, 17-11 at the 1:28 mark. Grayson County led by four points, 17-13 at the start of the second period.
Two White free throws at the 4:55 mark of the second quarter put Grayson County back on top by six points, 21-15, but the LadyCats responded with an 8-1 run, including three-pointers by Martin and Rachel Duncan to take a 23-22 lead with 2:59 left in the first half.
Lady Cougar senior Breana Minton followed that by burying a three-pointer at the 2:36 mark to put the Lady Cougars back in front 25-23. The score was tied twice more after that before Saltsman hit a 10-footer with 1:29 remaining to put the Lady Cougars back on top 29-27. That was the score at the end of the first half and the Lady Cougars would never trail again.
White opened the scoring in the third quarter with a six-footer to put the Lady Cougars up by four, 31-27, but Duncan hit a three at 7:21 to pull the LadyCats to within a point. They would never be closer.
White hit a three-pointer with 6:52 left before Martin scored on a lay-up at the 5:44 mark to make it 34-32. That’s when the Lady Cougars put the game away with their big run. Saltsman kicked off the 10-o run with a three-pointer with 4:43 left, and when Shannon Smith ended the run with a three at the 1:52 mark, the Lady Cougars held a 12-point lead, 44-32. Grayson County led by eight, 44-36 at the start of the fourth quarter,
The LadyCats were able to close their deficit to six points, 47-41 following a lay-in by Madeline Taylor with 6:35 left in the game, but any thoughts of a comeback were squashed when the Lady Cougars scored 12 unanswered points, including threes from Saltsman and Pierce, to take their largest lead of the night, 18 points at 59-41 with 3:22 remaining to be played.
The LadyCats closed out the game with an 8-2 run that made the final score a bit closer. Edmonson County also put three players into double figures, Duncan and Taylor with 14 points apiece, and Martin with 13 points.
Minton finished with seven points, while Horton, who was saddled with foul trouble nearly from the start, scored five points and added five rebounds. Smith closed out the Lady Cougar scoring with three points.
Following the game, White, Saltsman, Horton and Pierce were named to the All-Tournament Team. Joining them were Martin, Taylor and Caitlin Simon, from Edmonson County, Nina Wathen and Erin Kinsey, from Trinity, and Chloe Flener and Addison Hall, from Butler County.
Named to the 12th District All-Academic team were Breana Minton, from Grayson County, Hall, from Butler County, Kinsey, from Trinity and Basil, from Edmonson County.
Named to the regular season All-District Team were: Saltsman, Horton and White, from Grayson County, Simon and Basil, from Edmonson County, Flener, from Butler County, and Wathen, from Trinity.
Reach Don Brown at 259-9622, ext. 2016.