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BASKETBALL: Lady Hawks are Region runners-up

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By Nathaniel Bryan

  A stellar season came to an end for the Lady Hawks Sunday as they fell in the 5th Region championship, 73-56, to Elizabethtown’s Lady Panthers.

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LaRue’s Ladies defeated E’town 65-58 in their last regular season match-up. Sunday was a different story as the Lady Panthers never trailed and led by double digits for all but the opening 5:05 at Nelson County’s Cardinal Gym. It was E’town’s seventh region title.

The Lady Hawks didn’t make a field goal in the opening 7 minutes as they dug themselves a 16-2 hole.

An early deficit was nothing new to LaRue County, which overcame an 18-8 deficit to beat Elizabethtown. Last season, LaRue County trailed 6-0 and 10-4 and missed 14-of-17 shots to open the game before rallying for a 49-39 win.

There was no comeback this time as the balanced Lady Panthers cruised to their 14th straight victory by at least 13 points.

Elizabethtown cruised into the break up 35-17, limiting LaRue County to 4-of-20 shooting in the first two periods and holding the Lady Hawks – who entered Sunday averaging 77 points in their first four postseason contests – without a field goal for the final 4:25 of the first half.

Junior guard Alexis Brewer finished with a game-high 26 points on 7-of-27 shooting, while senior wing Ivy Brown had 20 points and a game-high 15 rebounds before fouling out.

It was the final game in Brown’s career. The program’s all-time leading scorer and ranking in the top 10 in many other career categories, Brown could become the area’s first Miss Basketball when the award is presented next week in Lexington.

“I’m not really worried about that right now. The region championship was more important to me,” Brown said. “I’d much rather have a region title than Miss Basketball.”

Under Brown’s leadership, the Lady Hawks (24-7) came close to a region title in back-to-back seasons. Last year, the Lady Hawks fell to eventual state champion Marion County in LaRue County’s first berth in the title game.

“When I first took this job nine years ago, 99 percent of the people around me said, ‘You’re crazy. You’ll never win there,’” said LaRue County coach Travis Wootton, who came within one win of going to the Sweet 16 as a player and a coach. “I believed we could put together something here to be proud of. We’ve done a lot of good things and the girls worked their butts off to get us here.”

LaRue County outscored Elizabethtown in the second half, but never came closer than a pair of 14-point deficits. While LaRue County kept trying to lean on its dynamic duo – the rest of the team combined for 10 points after scoring just 11 against North Hardin – Elizabethtown kept hitting the Lady Hawks from all angles.

Brown, Brewer and Alyson Yingling were named to the 5th Region Basketball All-Tournament Team.

Elizabethtown (29-4) moves on to play the 7th Region Tournament champion Louisville Sacred Heart Valkyries (27-7) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the state tournament at Western Kentucky University’s Diddle Arena in Bowling Green.

Defeat of Marion 

semifinals

The Lady Hawks defeated Marion County’s Lady Knights, 65-54, Saturday in the 5th Region semifinals.

Sophomore guard Delany Eastridge provided a much-needed spark to a stagnant offense in the second half and it spread like wildfire to the other Lady Hawks.

After Marion County tied the score at 26, Eastridge scored five consecutive points and the Lady Hawks took control from there to down the Lady Knights at Nelson County High School.

“Those were two huge shots,” said Wootton. “That really jumpstarted us. We were looking for some kind of spark and this time it was Delany. Once you see the ball go through the basket, I think that helps everyone out.”

After not taking a shot in the first half, Eastridge drained a 15-footer and then nailed a 3-pointer in a 33-second span to stake the Lady Hawks to a 31-26 lead. LaRue County never trailed after Eastridge’s spurt.

“I think it helped get our momentum going,” Eastridge said. “They opened up in a different defense (in the second half) and I was open. I think it helped get our offense going.”

The Lady Knights closed the gap to 39-38 after back-to-back jumpers by senior guard Evelyn Taylor, but Brewer converted a three-point play and then senior wing Ivy Brown scored seven straight LaRue County points, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer, to build a 49-40 lead.

 “I think we got the ball inside,” said Brewer, who scored a game-high 26 points. “We got the ball inside and started putting the ball in the basket. We were having trouble in the first half. Our shots weren’t falling. We did a better job in the second half of finishing.”

North knocked from Region

Once Brewer and Brown got on a roll Thursday night, the LaRue County Lady Hawks rocked the North Hardin Lady Trojans right out of the 5th Region Tournament.

Brewer notched a career high and Brown added a double-double as the Lady Hawks broke away from deadlocked game with less than 6 minutes left in the third quarter en route to an 84-60 win over the Lady Trojans in the final quarterfinal at Nelson County’s Cardinal Gym.

Brewer finished with a career-high 44 points on 12-of-18 shooting from the floor and 19-of-25 from the foul line to surpass her previous best of 36 points.

Lisa Phillips set LaRue County’s single-game scoring record with 55 points in 1989.

Brewer’s big night came just one game after Brown set a career high for points in the Lady Hawks’ win over Caverna in the 18th District Tournament final.

“I really wasn’t trying to outdo her. I was just trying to win. I think we all were,” said Brewer, who also had 10 rebounds.

By halftime, Brewer had already posted 17 points and five rebounds. Brown had 10 points and six rebounds as the Lady Hawks entered the break up 31-26.

“When you have someone who is continuing to score like that, you have to keep getting her the ball. I think we all understood that,” said Brown, who finished with 29 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.