The Lincoln County girls didn’t get to stay as long at the Girls Sweet Sixteen this year as last, as they a href=”http://khsaa.org/basketball/girls/sweet16/2013/stats/girls05.htm”>lost to Owensboro Catholic 66-55 in a first-round game today at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green.
Lincoln (27-6) never fully recovered after falling behind 14-2 in the first quarter, though the Lady Patriots were never out of the game. They pulled to within three points of Owensboro Catholic (25-7) on three occasions in the third quarter and one in the fourth, but that was as close as they came.
Three-point shooting proved to be a problem for the Lady Patriots, who reached the semifinals last year with two victories. They missed their first six shots from outside the arc before Chansler Gilbert came off the bench to hit one in the final minute of the first quarter, and they made only two of 14 3-point attempts in the first half and were 3 for 22 overall.
Stopping Owensboro Catholic star Rebecca Greenwell also proved to be a handful for Lincoln. The Duke signee and Miss Basketball finalist exceeded her average in the first half with 24 points, and she finished with 32. And when Greenwell wasn’t making shots, she was getting fouled. She went 8 for 17 from the field but was also 14 for 17 from the free-throw line.
The Lady Aces had an obvious edge at the free-throw line, in part because Greenwell was in attack mode and in part because the Lady Patriots weren’t for much of the day. Owensboro Catholic hit 31 of 40 free throws; Lincoln was 4 for 6.
Lincoln shot a chilly 30.6 percent from the field in the first half and finished at 38.1 percent. Owensboro Catholic shot 52.9 percent in the first half and 47.1 percent overall, and the Lady Aces were 3 for 11 from 3-point range.
Their largest lead was a 13-point cushion in the second quarter (at 18-5 and 20-7), but Lincoln trimmed the margin to seven points in less than 3 minutes and was within seven at halftime. Kourtney Belcher scored once and Sydney Harris scored twice during a six-point surge that pulled the Lady Patriots within 37-34 with 3:39 left in the third quarter.
It was 46-43 after a Harris layup 28 seconds into the fourth quarter, but Kaylyn Pearson answered with a three-point play on the other end, and Owensboro Catholic held Lincoln scoreless for 2:22 — the Lady Patriots were 0 for 2 with two turnovers during that stretch — while it opened a 52-43 lead that would not be threatened.
Owensboro Catholic scored all but two of its 20 fourth-quarter points at the foul line, where the Lady Aces were 16 for 21 in the period.
Harris led Lincoln with 18 points and seven rebounds, and she was 8 for 13 from the field. Emily Fox had 13 points and four assists; she was 1 for 7 from 3-point range and 6 for 19 overall from the field. Belcher and Tiandra Hocker also scored six points each for Lincoln, and Rachel Spangler had five assists.
Greenwell had 12 rebounds and Pearson had 11 for Owensboro Catholic, which outrebounded Lincoln 34-27.
It was the final high school game for a remarkable class of five Lincoln seniors — Belcher, Harris, Fox, Spangler and Ciara Saylor — who went 99-28 in four years. During those four years, three under coach Cassandra McWhorter and one under former coach Don Story, the Lady Patriots became the first area team to win consecutive 12th Region championships, made a third appearance in the regional finals, built a streak of 24 straight wins against 12th Region opponents that is still active and won four 45th District championships, part of an overall string of six straight district titles.