Regional review, Saturday 3/3
News and notes from day 3 of the girls 12th Region Tournament:
- Lincoln County defeated Mercer County 54-50; Casey County defeated Wayne County 54-46. Lincoln (23-9) plays Casey (19-14) for the championship at 3 p.m. Sunday.
- Lincoln avenged a 49-45 loss to Mercer 29 days earlier, as the Lady Patriots built an 18-point lead in the second quarter and early in the third and held off the Titans’ charge down the stretch. Lincoln led 35-17 after 1:19 of the second half and was still up 44-30 with 2:48 left in the third quarter before Mercer began its comeback.
- The Titans tied the game at 49-all with 1:14 to play, but Chansler Gilbert hit a 3-point shot 17 seconds later to put the Lady Patriots on top to stay. Tabby Shewmaker missed a 3-point shot with three seconds left that would have given Mercer the lead.
- Emily Fox had 16 points and eight rebounds and Ciara Saylor had 10 points and seven rebounds to lead Lincoln, which dominated the boards with a 43-28 rebounding advantage and had 13 offensive rebounds. Mercer got 18 points from Catheryne Claunch, including 11 in the third quarter, before she fouled out with 6:48 to play and 15 points and seven rebounds from Savannah Taylor.
- Lincoln shot 30.3 percent from the field and hit 16 of 20 free throws. Mercer shot 37.9 percent from the field and hit only 13 of 22 free throws. The Titans committed only four turnovers, while Lincoln had 15, a dozen fewer than the 27 it had in its regular-season loss to Mercer.
- Casey continues to be the team that won’t go away. Almost nobody thought the Lady Rebels would win the 47th District, and about the same number of people thought they’d still be alive in the regional. But they rallied in the second half to beat Wayne, winning their fourth straight postseason game after going 3-8 in their last 11 regular-season games following a knee injury to center Megan Pittman.
- Casey scored eight straight points late in the third quarter to take its first lead, and then a basket by Jasmine Johnson and back-to-back 3s by Christin Terry in the first 1:37 of the fourth quarter gave the Lady Rebels a 40-32 advantage. Wayne, which led by six points in the second quarter and by five midway through the third, closed to within 47-45 with 2:26 remaining, but Casey hit seven of eight free throws in the final 1:03, including four of four by Sarah Beard.
- Johnson led Casey with 20 points and five rebounds, Terry had 11 points and six rebounds and Tiara Cochran also had 11 points. Wayne got 17 points from Jamie Roberts, who had 11 in the first half, 12 points and nine rebounds from Jessica Hardin and 12 points and six rebounds from Samantha Sexton.
- Casey shot 43.9 percent from the field and made 12 of 18 free throws; Wayne shot 40 percent from the field and was 9 for 11 at the foul line. The Lady Rebels committed only seven turnovers; the Lady Cardinals had 16.
- Sunday’s title game matches two teams that are very familiar with each other. They have played 29 times since the 1988-89 season, with Casey winning 15 games, Lincoln winning 14 — and with 23 games decided by 10 points or less. This season, Lincoln beat Casey 46-43 in the fifth-place game of Mercer’s Christmas tournament, and the Lady Patriots crushed the Lady Rebels 65-35 in the regular-season finale for both teams.
- Lincoln is playing in the regional finals for the third time in four years, and the Lady Patriots are trying to win their second championship and their first since 2001, when they defeated Boyle County in the finals. Casey County is in the finals for the second straight year and the fourth time in five years; the Lady Rebels have won regional titles in 2000, when they defeated Wayne County, and ’09, when they defeated Lincoln 32-21 for the title.
- The semifinals were delayed by one day, having been postponed Friday morning due to the rather ominous forecast for severe weather. It’s easy to say this in retrospect, of course, but it was a good call. The games surely would have been delayed if they hadn’t been called off, and there were active tornado warnings in Lincoln County at the time when people would have been traveling to and arriving at the games. Our region was among the first to announce a postponement, but by mid-afternoon every single regional that was scheduled to play Friday night had postponed its games.
- One question, though: With the title game set for Sunday afternoon, wouldn’t it have made sense to play the rescheduled semifinals this afternoon to give the winning teams a slightly longer turnaround. Casey was left with just 15 1/2 hours between the end of its game tonight and the biggest game of his season, and Lincoln had only two hours more.