The girls’ Green River Valley Conference Tournament opened Saturday afternoon at Hancock County Middle School, and both the seventh and eighth-grade Lady Cougars teams came away with wins.
Both teams were number-one seeds from the East and were playing the number-four seeds from the West. In the opener, the eighth-grade girls staved off a gutty performance by the Muhlenberg South Suns to win 46-32 and advance them to Tuesday night’s semi-final matchup against McLean County.
In Saturday’s second game, the seventh-grade girls used a big third-quarter effort to turn away the Lady Bears of Butler County 44-29.
That win put them into Monday night’s semi final against Muhlenberg North, where their season ended with a 44-30 loss the the Stars.
EIGHTH vs SOUTH
This game started out like it was going to be a runaway for the Lady Cougars after they raced out to a big, 13-2 lead after one quarter of play.
But the Lady Cougars’ Grace White picked up two early fouls, and point guard Allie Horton picked up her third foul in the second period and both of them sat out most of the second quarter.
That allowed the Suns to make a big comeback in the second period. The Lady Cougars still led by six points when Grace Gorby hit 1-of-2 at the free throw line to make it 17-11 with 1:22 left in the half. The Suns then scored five straight to pull to within a point of the lead, 17-16 with 32 seconds remaining.
Shannon Smith closed out the scoring with a put-back basket with nine seconds left that made it a three-point game, 19-16 at the half.
It stayed close through the third quarter. South’s Carlie Ray scored on a lay-up with 1:55 left to pull then Suns to within a point at 25-24. The Suns later tied it at 27-27 with 26 seconds left, but Hannah Saltsman scored with 10 seconds left to give the Lady Cougars a two-point advantage, 39-37 heading into the fourth quarter.
That’s when White took over the game. White scored seven points in a 10-2 Lady Cougar run that increased their lead to 10 points, 39-29 with 2:13 left to play. White finished the period with 10 points as the Lady Cougars outscored the Suns 17-5 to win going away.
White led all scorers in the game with 22 points and she added six rebounds and five steals. Smith joined White in double figures with 11 points and she added nine rebounds to lead the team.
Horton finished with seven points and added four rebounds, three assists and four steals. Salsman had five points and four boards, and Gorby finished with one point to complete the scoring.
Shelbi Pendergest did not score in the game, but she led the Lady Cougars in assists, with six, and in steals, with five.
SEVENTH vs BUTLER COUNTY
As in the eighth-grade game, the number-four seed gave the Lady Cougars all they could handle in the early going.
After Grayson County took a 5-2 lead at the 3:24 mark, the Lady Cougars had seven straight empty possessions and Butler County scored the final four points of the period to grab a 6-5 lead as the second quarter began.
The Lady Bears then scored the first four points of the second period to hold their largest lead of the game, five points at 10-5.
A Kaylee Masden three with 2:36 left in the half brought Grayson County back to within a point of the lead, 11-10, but the Lady Bears scored three straight to lead 14-10 with 1:06 remaining. The Lady Cougars then hit 4-of-6 at the foul line in the final 54 seconds to tie things 14-14 at the half.
The Lady Cougars put the game away with a big third quarter, outscoring Butler 22-8 to take a 14-point lead into the final period of play. Salsman scored 16 of her game-high 24 points to lead the charge. She personally outscored the Lady Bears 11-2 to put her team on top 25-16 with 2:58 left in the quarter.
Any thoughts Butler County might have had about a fourth-quarter comeback were squashed when the Lady Cougars scored the first eight points of the period to build an insurmountable 22-point lead, 44-22 with 2:41 left to play.
In addition to her 24 points, Salsman led the Lady Cougars on the boards with nine rebounds. Masden finished with seven points, and Gorby had five. Breanna Frank scored three, Brandi Minton and Shana Bradley had two each, and Brooke Simpson closed out the scoring with one point.
SEVENTH vs MUHLENBERG NORTH
It may have been shirtsleeve weather outside the Hancock County Gym, but for the Lady Cougars its was absolutely arctic inside.
The North Stars came out playing a zone, and instead of being patient and trying to break down the zone, the Lady Cougars began bombing away from long range to disastrous results.
They hit just 1-of-15 from the field in the first quarter and just 2-of-18 in the second for a combined 3-of-33 for the first half, a minuscule eight percent shooting percentage.
As bad as they were shooting the ball, they played even worse on the defensive end. North’s point guard, Bailee Harney, led all scorers in the game with 18 points, 16 of which came on slashing drives through the lane for easy lay-ups. Her other two points came on free throws. In all, the Stars scored on 15 lay-ups in the game.
North led by 10 points, 13-3 after the first period, and led by 11, 22-9 at the half. Grayson County shot a little better in the second half, but still managed just 17 percent from the field on 11-of-64 shooting.
The Lady Cougars finished their season with a sparkling 17-5 record, but three of those losses came against the Stars.
Haleigh Harris joined Harney in double figures with 10 points. Salsman led the Lady Cougars with 18 points, and made it a double-double night by pulling down 10 rebounds. She also led the team with four steals.
Edwards scored six for the Lady Cougars, and added five rebounds and three steals. Gorby finished with four points and added four rebounds. Masden closed out the Lady Cougar scoring with two points, and she added five rebounds as well.