After trailing by 10 points at the end of the first half, the Lady Cougars came roaring back in the second to overtake Edmonson County’s LadyCats and they went on to win their 12th straight 12th District Championship, 52-41.
For the entire first half, it appeared the Lady Cougars had left their game at home as the LadyCats held them to just 14 points and led by 10, 24-14. Some sloppy ball-handling and ice-cold shooting were the culprits. Grayson County turned the ball over seven times in the first half, though the Lady Cats were only able to turn them into four points.
The Lady Cougars put up 20 shots in that first half, but could manage to hit just six of them. That worked out to 30 percent shooting from the field.
But it was an entirely different game in the second half when Grayson County outscored Edmonson 38-17 to win going away.
Junior forward Hannah Saltsman had one of the best games of her career. Several times she put on moves under and around the basket that left her defenders gaping helplessly as she laid the ball off the glass for buckets.
Saltsman finished with a game-high 21 points, including two shots from behind the arc. She made it a superb, all-around game by adding four rebounds, three assists and four steals.
Senior Grace White recorded a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. White also added two assists and three steals. Senior Allie Horton scored eight points and added two rebounds, four assists and a steal.
The first period was close with two ties and a lead change. Tied 8-8, the LadyCats got a 10-foot, pull-up jumper from Cailtin Simon with 16 seconds left and Edmonson took that two-point lead into the second period.
White hit a short jumper opening the second period to tie the score 10-10 at the 7:36 mark. The LadyCats then got three pointers from Peyton Martin and Maddie Cline, and another Simon 10-footer, and suddenly Grayson County trailed by eight points, 18-10 with 4:44 left to play and head coach Daniel Pharris called a timeout to try and stop the bleeding.
The Lady Cougars responded with back-to-back baskets from Saltsman and White to cut the lead to four points, 18-14 with 3:32 left, but Edmonson scored the last six points of the period to take that 10-point lead, 24-14 as the teams went to the locker rooms at the break.
The Lady Cougars started well with Brandi Minton burying a three to open the third-quarter scoring, but they still trailed by eight points, 29-21 at the 3:27 mark, when they made the move to take charge of the game.
Saltsman hit a pair of free throws at 3:10, and followed that up with a lay-in at 2:47 and the deficit was down to just four points, 29-25. Martin scored for the LadyCats with 2:05 remaining, but White hit back-to-back jumpers to cut the lead to just two points, 31-29 at the 1:40 mark.
Following an Edmonson County miss, Saltsman grabbed the rebound, then at the other end, made a spin move under the basket that left LadyCat lingerie littering the floor and the game was tied 31-31.
Edmonson County wanted to work for the final shot of the period, but Saltsman came up with a steal in the closing seconds. She got the ball to freshman guard Kenzie Renfrow, who raced down the floor and hit a runner going out-of-bounds with five seconds left that put the Lady Cougars in front for the first time since it was 6-4 in the first quarter.
Simon opened the fourth quarter with a basket to tie it 33-33, but Horton hit a three at 7:24 to put the Lady Cougars in front again. Katlyn Collins answered that with a three of her own to tie it one last time, 36-36 at the 6:23 mark.
White followed with a 15-footer at 6:05 and when Saltsman followed that up with a three-ball at 4:55, the Lady Cougars held their largest lead to that point, 41-36.
Martin scored on a put-back basket with 3:20 remaining to make it a three-point game, but junior Mackenzie Edwards buried another three at 2:51 to give Grayson County a six-point advantage, 44-38.
Martin cut the lead to four points one last time with 2:21 left, but Grayson County closed out the game with an 8-1 run, capped off by a Horton three with 21 seconds left, and the title was theirs..
Simon led the LadyCats with 14 points, while Martin had 12.
Edwards had a good night off the bench, finishing with four points and two rebounds. Minton finished with three points and Renfrow had two to complete the scoring.
Following the game, District awards were handed out. Named to the 12th District All-Academic Team were Erin Kinsey, from Whitesville Trinity, Addison Hall, from Butler County, Abby Alexander, from Edmonson County, and Kennedi Cave, from Grayson County.
The regular season All-District Team included Nina Wathen, from Trinity, Hall and Chloe Flener, from Butler County, Martin and Simon, from Edmonson County, and White and Saltsman, from Grayson County.
Named to the All-Tournament Team were Trinity’s Wathen, Butler’s Hall, Edmonson’s Martin and Simon, and Saltsman, Horton and White from Grayson County.
Reach Don Brown at 259-9622, ext. 2016.