Regional review, Tuesday 3/2
News and notes from day 2 of the girls 12th Region Tournament at Lincoln County:
- Rockcastle County defeated Garrard County 63-50; Monticello defeated Mercer County 67-58. Rockcastle (25-4) plays Monticello (18-12) in Friday’s 7:45 p.m. semifinal.
- Two Advocate-area teams were bounced out of the regional, but they took very different paths into the offseason. First there was Garrard, which not only gave a valiant effort but also played a pretty good game to stay close to regional power Rockcastle in a game that was much closer than most people — and yes, that includes me — probably expected. It took Rockcastle at least three tries to put away a Garrard team that simply wouldn’t leave without a fight. It was a game the Lady Lions could be proud of, and a pretty good loss for a young team that will return four of five starters to take into the offseason. Then came Mercer, which was expected to mow down Monticello but failed on both ends of the floor. At one basket, the Titans gave up one layup after another as Monticello sliced through their defense; at the other, they shot themselves out of the tournament by going 5 for 36 from 3-point range and 7 for 16 at the free throw line. Mercer now faces a more uncertain offseason as it tries to replace seven seniors.
- Garrard (19-7) jumped out to a 5-0 lead on Rockcastle that might have been even bigger if Lady Rockets center Sara Hammond hadn’t blocked three shots in the first three minutes. But Hammond and Jackie Alexander soon fell into foul trouble, and the Lady Lions had a lot to do with that, which in turn had a lot to do with keeping them in the game. Still, Rockcastle closed the first half with a 16-4 run to lead 32-19. An 8-0 Garrard run in the third quarter pulled the Lady Lions within 36-34 and had coach Scott Bolin pumping his fist on the sideline, but that was as close as they came. Rockcastle rebuilt a 10-point lead, then fought off one last rally in the fourth quarter that brought Garrard within five.
- Alexander led Rockcastle with 23 points, and she got 11 of them in the fourth quarter and 16 in the second half. Angie Lawrence added 19 points, and Hammond had eight. Garrard was led by Devin Conley with 15 points, followed by Kelly Smith with 11 and Haley Meadows with 10.
- Mercer (20-10) was playing uphill right from the start, as Monticello raced to a 14-5 lead in the first 4 1/2 minutes. The Lady Trojans still led by 11 points before Mercer closed the first half with a 10-2 run to pull within 29-26, then used a 6-1 run at the start of the second half to take its first — and only — lead at 32-30 with 5:12 left in the third quarter. Monticello answered that run with 10 straight points in less than two minutes, then used an 11-2 run to go up 51-39 in the early seconds of the fourth quarter after the Titans had closed to within three points. Mercer was never closer than eight points after that.
- Malesha Hughes went 6 for 11 from the field and 8 for 10 at the foul line to lead Monticello with 20 points. Lacey Alley, who was 4 for 5 from 3-point range, had 17 points and Cortney Morrow added 14. Abra Sickles had 20 points for Mercer, but she could have had many more if the Titans hadn’t settled for so many 3-point shots against the Lady Trojans’ zone. Leah Flora added 10 points but was just 2 for 12 from 3-point range, and Tori Freeman and Savannah Taylor added nine each.
- While Mercer struggled at the free throw line — the Titans were 1 for 8 at halftime — Monticello was 17 for 25.
- This was Monticello’s first appearance in the regional since 2004, when it lost a first-round game to Casey County. It last won a regional tourney game in 2003, when they beat South Laurel in the first round before losing to eventual champion Mercer in the semfinals. And longtime coach Marla Kelsch, who coached both of those teams, admitted that tonight’s win over Mercer was made a little sweeter by the fact that virtually no one not wearing Monticello blue and white expected the Lady Trojans to win.
- The Lincoln gym is closed for two days while the action shifts south to Pulaski County for the opening night of the boys regional Wednesday. Defending champion West Jessamine (23-7) plays Wayne County (19-11) at 6 p.m. in a rematch of a Feb. 12 game in Nicholasville that the Colts won 96-61. Then it’s Boyle County (18-8) against Casey County (8-22) in a rematch of a Feb. 17 game in Danville that Boyle won 78-48.