Regional review, Friday 3/5
News and notes from day 3 of the girls 12th Region Tournament at Lincoln County:
- Lincoln County defeated Southwestern 63-49; Rockcastle County defeated Monticello 78-41. Lincoln (24-4) will play Rockcastle (26-4) for the championship at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
- The anticipated title game matchup is here, as two teams that have been ranked among the top 10 to 15 teams in the state in every poll and power rating for much of the season will play for a spot in the Girls Sweet Sixteen. And given how well Rockcastle and Lincoln’s teams are supported by their respective fan bases, they might well before a capacity crowd. Arrive early. (More on the matchup below.)
- Lincoln relied on 3-point shooting to come from behind after Southwestern (20-10) opened a 19-12 lead late in the first quarter, but turnovers and runouts fueled a third-quarter surge that allowed the Lady Patriots to pull away. They outscored Southwestern 15-4 in the second quarter to lead 30-23 at halftime, then opened a 49-32 lead in the third period, after which the Lady Warriors got no closer than 10 points. And after sinking six 3-pointers in the first half, they had only one in the second. Southwestern, a young team that has relied on the 3 for a surprisingly successful season, outscored Lincoln 27-21 from long distance.
- Four players scored in double figures for Lincoln, led by Kendra Brown with 17 points. Nikki Bustle and Emily Fox had 14 each, and Jessica Upchurch added 12. Danay Fothergill had a game-high 28 points for Southwestern, and Emily Walker added nine.
- The second semifinal was over almost as soon as it started, as Rockcastle opened the game with 19 unanswered points in about 4 1/2 minutes. Monticello (18-13) trailed 21-4 after one quarter and 41-14 at halftime, and the Lady Rockets continued to expand their lead in the second half. Rockcastle’s regulars were able to get plenty of rest in the second half, although they didn’t leave the game for good until about 3 1/2 minutes remained.
- Sara Hammond led Rockcastle with 18 points, followed by Angie Lawrence with 13, Michaela Hunter with 12, Jackie Alexander with 11 and Kristin Abney with 10. Monticello got 11 points from Cortney Morrow, nine from Lacey Alley and eight from Malesha Hughes.
- Saturday’s game will be the final home game for Don Story as Lincoln’s coach. He has already said that he plans to resign after the season.
- Rockcastle won its regular-season meeting with Lincoln 63-49 on Dec. 4 in Stanford. Story said after that game that he was disappointed in his team’s performance. “We just got outworked. It was pretty much in every area,” Story said. The Lady Rockets led just 30-26 at halftime, but they outscored Lincoln 13-4 in the third quarter and led by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter. The Lady Rockets shot 45 percent from the field and outrebounded Lincoln 36-24. The Lady Patriots shot 32 percent from the field and were 8 for 24 from 3-point range.
- Alexander led Rockcastle with 26 points, 15 of them in the second half, while Hammond had 19 points and 18 rebounnds, including 12 second-half boards. Lincoln got 14 points from Bustle and 11 from Upchurch, but Brown went scoreless and attempted only two shots. Here’s the full box score:
Dec. 4 at Stanford
Rockcastle County 18 30 44 63
Lincoln County 14 26 29 47
ROCKCASTLE (2-0) — Sara Hammond 19, Jackie Alexander 26, Kristen Abney 2, Shanlee Burton 4, Angie Lawrence 10, Ella McQueary 2.
LINCOLN (2-1) — Jessica Upchurch 11, Emily Fox 8, Shelby Smith 7, Nikki Bustle 14, Ciara Saylor 1, Korey Coleman 6.
- In my game story, I wrote that Story said the only good news for Lincoln was that the game was in December rather than March. “We’re going to try to fix some things and be determined, and I think this group will,” he said. “And we may see them again.”
- Lincoln knocked out Rockcastle in last year’s regional with a 50-49 win in a semifinal at Pulaski County, only to lose the title game to Casey County. The teams have split eight meetings since Rockcastle was moved to the 12th Region before the 2005-06 season, but the Lady Rockets have won two of the three postseason games. They defeated the Lady Patriots 52-40 in the 2006 regional championship game at Lincoln, and they beat Lincoln 67-55 in the first round of the 2007 regional at Pulaski County.
- Rockcastle has won five regional titles, including four in the last six years and two in its four full seasons in the 12th Region. Those two championships came in 2006 and 2008, the last two times the tournament has been played at Lincoln. Lincoln’s only regional title came in 2001, when John Kolasa’s Lady Patriots defeated Boyle County in the championship game at Russell County.
- The Lincoln-Rockcastle winner will play the 1st Region champion at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the Girls Sweet Sixteen at Bowling Green. Crosstown rivals Murray (29-4) and Calloway County (21-10) will play for the 1st Region title Saturday night at Murray State University. Those two teams split their two regular-season meetings, with each winning at home by four points, and Murray beat Calloway 61-54 last week in the 4th District final at Calloway.