Lady Pats knocked out in region semis

Published 11:50 am Thursday, March 7, 2019

SOMERSET — In the famous baseball poem “Casey at the Bat,” Ernest Lawrence Thayer wrote of the crushed dreams of the residents of Mudville after watching the mighty Casey strike out in the bottom of the ninth inning.

That emotion is oh so fresh in the minds of fans, athletes and coaches here in Lincoln County, as they deal with the Lady Patriot basketball team’s loss to Southwestern Sunday afternoon in the 12th Region Tournament semifinal round at Pulaski County High School.

Lincoln, which had been ranked as the top team in the region throughout the season and had handed Southwestern its only regional loss – an 18-point defeat on Jan. 29, would not repeat as victor in the rematch as the Lady Warriors knocked the Lady Patriots out of a possible trip to state by winning 74-59.

“Definitely not how we wanted the tournament to end,” Lincoln coach Cassandra McWhorter said, hugging her players, as they exited the locker room. “It will be hard for this one to set in for some of them – the senior class especially (Maddy Boyle, Emma King, Anna Lane, Zaria Napier, Kaitlynn Wilks). Trinity (Shearer) has been playing with them for a really long time and they’ve had goals. We were so close last year and then to get this close again … to play as good as we’ve been playing lately for this to not work out. It’s not the plans we had.”

After a back-and-forth battle in the first quarter, Lincoln managed to build an eight-point, 33-25, lead at the half. However, Southwestern took control in the third quarter, opening the second half on a 9-0 run to erase the deficit. The Lady Warriors went on to outpoint Lincoln 22-10 in the period to distance themselves from the Lady Patriots then put the game away with a 27-16 finish.

“I felt really good about the first half and our energy level and how we were playing and what we were doing,” said McWhorter. “The third quarter, Southwestern really made some big plays. We quit pushing the ball the third quarter the way we were the first half a little bit and made some really costly turnovers that led to some easy buckets for them.”

“Momentum kind of shifted their way and it was like, once the momentum shifted, we just never could get back over that hump. We would cut back into their lead but it just seemed like the ball was really bouncing their way, shots were falling and we had some not go in. So just different things that happened changed the game.”

Southwestern’s Kennedy Harris, who finished with 15 points, including nine points from 3-point range, rang up her third trey to open the Lady Warriors’ third-quarter run. Alexa Smiddy, who added 13 points, sank a free throw toss and followed with the first of her two 3’s in the game before Regi Cundiff, who scored 17 points, hit a jumper with 4:51 to play in the third for Southwestern’s first lead since the first quarter.

Meanwhile, Lincoln struggled offensively, missing five straight shots and turning the ball over twice. Kaitlynn Wilks, who had 10 points in the loss, finally stopped the bleeding by converting on a three-point play with 4:33 left in the third to nose Lincoln back on top 36-34. But Smiddy would answer with the same for Southwestern on the opposite end to put the Lady Warriors up for good, 37-36, with 4:20 on the clock.

Southwestern teased at the game’s first double-digit lead late in the third quarter after a 10-2 run. Jenna Wood kicked off the run with a 3-pointer and Cundiff and Kallie Sheron, who had a team-high 21 points, knocked down a bucket apiece before Wood rang up another 3 to make it 47-38, Lady Warriors, with 1:17 remaining in the third.

Lincoln would pull within four points before the end of the third, with Maddy Boyle nailing a 3-pointer and Emma King, who had a game-high 25 points, following with two free throws for a 47-43 margin.

Lincoln was within six points twice in the fourth quarter. King scored a layup off a steal with 6:43 to play to make it 51-45 and she bombed in a 3-pointer with 1:36 to play to get the Lady Pats within 60-54.

King would convert on a three-point play late in the game and Wilks and Zaria Napier, who finished with 11 points, both sank one free throw. But Southwestern, which went 22-for-24 from the foul line overall, went 12-for-12 in the final 1:20 to seal the win and advance the Lady Warriors to Monday’s championship game against Casey County, a 71-68 winner over Danville.

“I still take this group of young ladies over anybody in the state of Kentucky,” McWhorter said of her Lady Pats. “They are a strong group. We’ve had our high moments this season where we’ve played really, really well. And we’ve had some low moments where, not that we’ve not played well, but we had some breakdowns here and there.”

“They are a great group of young ladies on and off the floor. I love each and every one of them like they are my own. This (loss) is a tough one because this is not how it’s supposed to end for them.”

In the first quarter, there were four lead changes. The final lead change came with 1:02 left in the period as King drained a 3-pointer to nose Lincoln on top 12-11. Napier scored a layup off a turnover before the buzzer to give the Lady Pats a 14-11 edge.

Lincoln led throughout the second quarter, although Sheron did hit a 3-pointer with 6:21 on the clock to cut the margin to one, 17-16. The Lady Pats answered with a 7-2 run to rebuild its lead, with King hitting a 3 and Boyle and Shearer both hitting inside to make it 24-18.

Eight points would be Lincoln’s biggest lead of the game. King scored on a putback late in the second quarter to give the Lady Pats a 30-22 advantage. Harris answered with a 3-pointer only to have Shearer do the same, hitting her second trey to put Lincoln up 33-25 at the break.

Lincoln shot 47 percent from the field Sunday, going 21-for-45 overall. The Lady Pats were just 9-for-12 from the foul line.

Southwestern shot 42 percent overall, going 22-for-52. The Lady Warriors and Lady Pats both scored eight 3-pointers.

*****

12th Region Semifinals
At Pulaski Co.

Lincoln 14 19 10 16 – 59
S-western 11 14 22 27 – 74

LINCOLN (24-7) – Emma King 25, Kaitlynn Wilks 10, Maddy Boyle 5, Trinity Shearer 8, Zaria Napier 11.

SOUTHWESTERN (23-5) – Kallie Sheron 21, Regi Cundiff 17, Kennedy Harris 15, Alexa Smiddy 13, Jenna Wood 8.