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GIRLS' 5th REGION TOURNAMENT: Tigers rout Knights for first-ever region win

Bardstown 72, Marion Co. 57

By Dennis George Tuesday, February 27, 2018 at 9:33 pm (Updated: February 28, 2:22 pm)  


CECILIA — Bardstown ended Marion County’s season the same way they started it: With a loss.

PETER W. ZUBATY/The Kentucky Standard
PETER W. ZUBATY/The Kentucky Standard

However, unlike the Tigers’ down-to-the-wire 53-51 win in Lebanon on Nov. 28, they took control of their 5th Region quarterfinal game Tuesday night in the second quarter en route to a 72-57 win at Central Hardin.

Bardstown went on an impressive 21-2 run in the second eight minutes, using a combination of pressure defense with torrid three-point shooting to turn a 14-13 deficit into a 34-16 lead.

They went to the locker room with a 36-18 lead.

Senior Allie Walsh, sophomore Jasmine Boggs, and eighth-grader Jaileyah Cotton hit consecutive three-pointers during that stretch.

Cotton tallied nine of her 17 points during that run and grabbed seven rebounds, while Walsh scored a team-high 20 points off the bench.

“I am a leader of the team and I needed to step up,” Walsh said. “We started getting some layups, and then we started knocking down those threes and that gave us momentum.”

Bardstown hit five treys for the game, something that was not in the game plan.

“That is not our M.O.,” Bardstown coach Amber Courtney said. “I’ll take it for tonight though. That is not what we want to lean to.”

For former Nelson County coach Kelly Wood, now on the sidelines at Marion County, allowing Bardstown the outside shot was the lesser of two evils.

“We had to pick our poison,” Wood said. “We wanted to stop them inside and we did that for a while, but we had to give up something. They hit the threes.”

Bardstown was also able to limit the Knights to only six points in that second period.

“We wanted to be aggressive and speed up the tempo,” Courtney said. “We thought they might try to slow us down, and once we picked up the pace, it was much better for us.”

Marion County did make a run of its own in the second half by hitting six three-pointers to pull to within eight at 57-49.

“I wanted us to shoot more three-point shots in the first half,” Wood said. “I told them at halftime that if they could shot-fake, they could shoot the three.”

Marion County shot 11 shots from behind the arc in the third quarter.

“We did not do a good job of getting out on them in the third quarter,” Courtney said. “A lot of those three-point shots were uncontested.”

Bardstown started pounding the ball inside to Katrina Brown to stop the Marion County run, and she managed six points in a two-minute stretch to give her team some breathing room. Brown finished the game with 12 and blocked four shots.

“I was just trying to post up strong and get some baskets,” she said.

Bardstown’s 21st win (against nine losses) was even more historic as it is believed to be the school’s first-ever region tournament win.

“This is a big thing, I thought our girls did a good job of getting through that,” Courtney said. “They knew it and that was a lot of pressure. They’re hearing everyone talk about how well they are playing right now, but this is a team that didn’t play that well early in the season. I think the girls were a little nervous early because of that pressure. In the back of your mind you’re thinking, we’ve never done this before. But we held our composure. When they cut that lead to nine, we could have panicked.”

This win was Bardstown’s eighth straight and 10th in the last 11 games.

“I think we've been playing better as a team,” Walsh said. “I just feel like the connection is better and it’s finally clicked.”

It’s been a big week for Courtney’s team, stopping Nelson County’s nine-year domination in the 19th District and then advancing to the semifinals of the 5th Region.

“It feels great,” Walsh said. “Especially as a senior. We’ve been doing this for four years and we’ve kept being disappointed in the district finals and then in the regional tournament. Now we have a chance to go on and win region.”

Bardstown will move on to face John Hardin (23-9) in Friday night’s second semifinal game. The Bulldogs scored a 64-56 win in Tuesday’s late quarterfinal over Green County.

The Tigers lost to the Bulldogs 47-41 in November and 69-40 in the finals of the Glenn Koger State Farm/Wilson and Muir Bank Holiday Classic in December.

“I think it will be a great matchup,” Courtney said. “I am looking forward to it.”

Wood, who saw Bardstown regularly during more than a decade on the sidelines at Nelson County, said it was the best Tiger team he’s coached against, with many ways they can beat you.

“Great mix of young and veteran players, size and speed, (and) well-coached,” he said.