The Lady Cougars made it look easy in Monday night’s opening round of the 3rd Region Tournament as they raced past the Meade County Lady Waves 49-30 at the Sportscenter, in Owensboro.
For their effort, the Lady Cougars will get the dubious distinction of playing in the second round against the tourney favorite Owensboro Catholic Lady Aces, who dispatched the Muhlenberg County Lady Mustangs 78-44 in Monday’s second first-round game.
The Lady Cougars had to play this game without the services of senior Breana Minton, who is likely out of the playoffs completely after coming down with a case of mononucleosis. Junior Shannon Smith started the game in Minton’s place.
The Lady Waves got on the board first when guard Katie Wilson was fouled by Smith on a shot less than half a minute into the game. Wilson hit both free throws to put Meade in front 2-0. That would be the Lady Waves’ only lead of the night.
When Allie Horton scored on a lay-in at the 6:35 mark, it was the start of a 15-0 Lady Cougar run that saw them take a 15-2 lead with 2:40 left in the first period following back-to-back three-pointers from sophomore Brandi Minton and senior Sarah Pierce.
Meade’s Ryleigh Board broke the run with a lay-up with 47 seconds left, but Grace White closed out the first period scoring with a lay-in with 4.7 seconds left. White was fouled on the bucket and her made free throw gave the Lady Cougars a 14-point lead, 18-4 heading into the second quarter.
Meade County cut the lead to 13 points three times in the second period, the last time coming at 24-11 with 1:41 left, but the Lady Cougars scored the last four points of the first half on a Hannah Saltsman lay-up and two free throws by Horton, and they took a 17-point lead, 28-11, into the halftime break.
The Lady Waves once again cut the lead back to 13 points, 29-16 following a Maggie Millay lay-up at the 4:25 mark of the third quarter, but White answered with six straight Grayson County points to increase the lead to 19 points, 35-16 with 2:35 left in the period.
A Pierce three-pointer at the 1:26 mark pushed the lead to 20 points, 38-18, then she closed out the third period scoring with a buzzer-beating three, her third of the night, to give the Lady Cougars a 21-point advantage, 41-20 as play headed into the fourth quarter.
After Horton opened the fourth quarter with a lay-in to give her team a 23-point lead, 43-20, the Lady Waves responded with six unanswered points to cut their deficit to 17 points, 43-26, but that would be their last gasp.
Wilson led her team with nine points before fouling out with 2:23 left in the game.
White led all scorers in the game with 19 points and just missed her 12th double-double of the season, finishing with nine rebounds. White also led the team with three assists and four steals.
Pierce was the only other Lady Cougar in double-figure scoring, finishing her night with 11 points. Horton finished with eight points and added eight rebounds and two steals.
Hannah Saltsman scored six points, but most of her work for the night was done on the glass as she led the Lady Cougars with 11 rebounds. Brandi Minton came off the bench to score three points and Smith closed out the scoring with two points.
Reach Don Brown at 259-9622, ext. 2016.