Quarterfinal win puts Casey in exclusive company
By advancing to the semifinals of the Girls Sweet Sixteen, the Casey County Lady Rebels have secured a special place in the hearts of Casey County sports fans.
And they deserve some accolades from the rest of us, too.
This area likes its basketball and reveres its heroes of the hardwood as much as any other corner of the state, but fans in our five counties have had precious little to cheer about on the days that champions have been crowned.
In fact, the tiny little list of Advocate-area teams that have played on the final day of the state tournament hasn’t changed since the end of World War II. But it grew by one line today when Casey County defeated Simon Kenton 54-44 in a quarterfinal game in Bowling Green to reach the Saturday morning semifinal round.
How rare is that? Casey is the first local girls team to make the state semifinals, and only four boys teams have done it in the 91 years of that state tournament. More on that a little lower in this post.
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In addition, visit amnews.com this evening for stories wrapping up the Lady Rebels’ Friday game and previewing their Saturday semifinal. And check back Saturday afternoon for coverage of that semifinal — and perhaps a look ahead to the championship game.
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Casey survived a poor shooting night from the field (31.6 percent) in large part because Simon Kenton was even worse (27.8 percent) and because the Lady Rebels made a living at the free-throw line.
Casey hit 27 of 39 free throws to account for exactly half of its points. And yes, Simon Kenton, had to put the Lady Rebels on the line often in the fourth quarter, but they were already 20-for-25 at the stripe when the final period started. The leading individual shooters at the line were Megan Pittman (7-for-9), Nicole Coffman (5-for-6) and Kayla McFarland (5-for-6).
Lauren Hatter led Casey with 15 points, followed by Pittman and Coffman with 13 each. Pittman had 12 rebounds, Coffman had six and McFarland had five as the Lady Rebels outrebounded Simon Kenton 39-32 overall and 21-8 in the second half. Pittman also blocked three shots.
Simon Kenton lost three players to fouls — it committed 29 in all — while Casey flirted with foul trouble in the first half but lost no one. Hatter had her third foul with 3:01 left in the first half, but she never got a fourth. And Coffman, who played only 9:27 against Johnson Central in the first round before fouling out, was on the floor for about 30 minutes Friday.
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Iroquois will be the toughest test yet for Casey. The Lady Raiders have advanced with wins over Franklin-Simpson in the first round and Montgomery County in the quarters.
Ranked among the top five teams in the state at season’s end, Iroquois plays vicious pressure defense and generates a great deal of its offense from that. Kentucky signee Adia Mathies averages a double-double with 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds, and sister Asia is also among four double-figure scorers.
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Casey fans again made up a large part of the house at Diddle Arena, where an impressive audience of 4,732 watched wins by Casey and Iroquois. And there’s every reason to think there’s be even more folks pouring out of Casey in the morning, when they don’t have to worry about getting back home for work the next morning (as they did when Wednesday’s game tipped off at 9:38 p.m.) or taking off work to get there (as for today’s 2:30 game).
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Now to conclude the history lesson that started near the top of this post. Only four Advocate-area teams have ever reached the state semifinals, all of them Danville boys teams. One of those teams reached the title game in 1934. Here’s the breakdown:
- 1933: def. Clear Springs, def. Kavanaugh, lost to Ashland Blazer.
- 1934: def. Central City, def. Highlands, def. Horse Cave, lost to Ashland Blazer (championship).
- 1935: def. Kirksey, def. Tompkinsville, lost to Newport.
- 1945: def. Dawson Springs, def. Providence, lost to Male, lost to Harlan (third-place game).