A nearly four-minute Lady Cougar dry spell in the second period allowed the Owensboro Catholic Lady Aces to go on an 11-0 run to take command of their 3rd Region semi-final game, and they went on to end Grayson County’s season with a 60-55 victory.
The loss marked the end of the high school careers for the Lady Cougars’ only two seniors, Sarah Pierce and Breana Minton. Pierce finished by hitting three three-pointers for nine points, and she added two rebounds and three assists. Minton came down with an illness and did not play in the Lady Cougars last two games.
The Lady Cougars’ outstanding junior, Grace White recorded her 12th double-double of the year, scoring a game-high 25 points and pulling down 12 rebounds.
The difference in the game turned out to be the superior rebounding of the Lady Aces. They outrebounded Grayson Couny 28-21, but most of that difference came on the offensive glass. Catholic held a 14-8 advantage in offensive rebounding and they turned those extra possessions into 13 points.
The Lady Cougars got off to a fast start after White scored the game’s first four points. After Sarah Clemens scored for Catholic on a put-back basket, Shannon Smith hit a three-pointer with 3:10 left in the first period to give the Lady Cougars their largest lead of the game, five points at 7-2.
Mikayla Berry hit a three for Catholic with 19 seconds left in the opening period that cut the Grayson County lead to two points, 11-9, but Pierce beat the buzzer with a three of her own and the Lady Cougars led by five again, 14-9 heading into the second quarter.
The Lady Aces opened the second period with a 9-3 run, capped off by an Emily Marshall three, that saw them take their first lead of the game, 18-17 at the 4:21 mark.
White answered with a put-back basket with 3:43 left in the period to give the Lady Couagrs a 19-18 lead. That would be the last time the Lady Cougars would be in front. Grayson County had five empty trips the rest of the period, including four turnovers, and the Lady Aces closed out the half with 11 unanswered points and led by 10, 29-19 at the half.
A Pierce three with 4:59 left in the third quarter cut the Catholic lead to seven points, 31-24. A White basket at the 3:12 mark was followed by two White free throws with 2:42 left to cut the deficit to just five points, 35-30.
The two teams then traded three-point shots, with Marshall and Annabel Moore providing Catholic’s points and White and Brandi Minton providing Grayson County’s and it was still a five-point game, 41-36 with 1:16 left in the period. Catholic then scored the last four points of the period and led by nine, 45-36 as the fourth period got started.
The Lady Cougars got threes from Pierce and Allie Horton in an 8-2 run opening the fourth quarter that drew Grayson County to within three points of the lead, 47-44 at the 6:04 mark, but Moore hit a three at 5:44 and Clemens scored on a rebound basket at 5:08 and the Lady Aces had pushed the lead back up to eight points, 52-44.
The Lady Cougars followed with nine empty possessions, including three turnovers. The Lady Aces scored just three points during that sequence, but that gave them an 11-point lead, 55-44 with just 2:13 left to play.
White followed with a three-pointer with 1:53 left and a lay-in following a Minton steal that cut the lead to six points, 55-49. White hit a six-footer with 31 seconds left that cut the lead to five points, 56-51, but Berry hit a pair of free throws with 17.8 second left that pushed it back to seven, 58-51.
Horton buried a three-pointer with 6.4 seconds left and was fouled on the play. She hit her free throw to close the gap to three points, 58-55, but Grayson County would get no closer. Berry closed out the scoring with two free throws with five seconds left for the final five-point margin.
Catholic put three players into double-figure scoring, led by Berry’s 14 points. Moore finished with 13 points, while Clemens had 10.
In addition to her 25 points and 12 rebounds, White led the team with four assists and added two steals. Pierce and Horton both scored nine points, with Horton adding four rebounds.
Minton finished with five points, Hannah Saltsman had four and Smith closed out the scoring with three points.
Catholic wound up winning the regional title, beating Breckinridge County 64-30 in the title game to move on to the state tournament.
Following that game, White and Pierce were named to the 3rd Region All-Tournament Team, and White was tabbed for the Owensboro Messenger Inquirer’s first team All-3rd Region team.
Reach Don Brown at 259-9622, ext. 2016.