The LaRue County Lady Hawks weren’t looking for a statement win, but that’s exactly what they came away with Saturday afternoon.
After falling earlier in the season to top-ranked teams Anderson County and Henderson County, the Lady Hawks knocked off the Louisville DuPont Manual Lady Crimsons, 46-45 in the Bluegrass Cellular New Year’s Classic at Central Hardin.
“It’s just another win,” said LaRue County junior Alexis Brewer, who scored a game-high 20 points. “We needed it because our confidence was going down.
“It’s big for us because we were struggling in our Christmas tournament,” she added. “We let the Henderson County game slip through our fingers. We let the Anderson County game slip through our fingers. We’re coming together, so it’s big to come back and get this win.”
The Lady Hawks (9-3) won their third straight since a 58-40 loss to Newport Central Catholic in the Gateway Holiday Classic at Montgomery County.
LaRue County coach Travis Wootton said he tried to beef up the schedule after last year’s team reached the 5th Region final. Although the Lady Hawks struggled against Anderson County and Henderson County, they showed what team they are capable of being Saturday.
“I think this win legitimizes what we think we can be,” Wootton said. “We’ve been in that situation before, so that’s got to help when you’re playing tough teams and you learn from it. I think it paid off for us.”
What made the victory even more impressive is the Lady Hawks had to do it without senior Ivy Brown. She bumped heads with sophomore Sydney MacBlaine with 5:18 left in the fourth quarter. Brown returned with 33.3 seconds remaining.
With Brown out, the Lady Crimsons took a 42-39 lead with 4:11 left after sophomore Krys McCune and freshman Tonysha Curry made back-to-back baskets.
But Brewer refused to let this game slip away like previous ones. She made a 15-footer and then put back her own miss to give LaRue County a 43-42 lead with 1:59 left.
“I had to do something,” said Brewer, who scored LaRue County’s last 11 points. “Ivy and I are the leaders of the team. When she went out, I knew I had to take over somehow.”
Manual took a 45-43 lead on sophomore Ami Ballard’s 3-pointer from the right baseline, but Brewer answered with a pair of a free throws when she was fouled on a putback after her own miss.
Tied at 45, Manual missed an opportunity to take the lead and senior Alley Evans grabbed the rebound. The Lady Crimsons hurt LaRue County with 15 offensive rebounds.
“That was big because we hadn’t rebounded well,” Brewer said. “Alley grabbed the ball and we pushed it up the court. That was a big play.”
Evans had six points for the Lady Hawks.
LaRue County took two timeouts, and after the second one with 9.2 seconds left, Brewer was fouled before the ball came in. She made 1-of-2 free throws.
The Lady Crimsons had a chance for the win, but a 3-pointer at the buzzer clanged off the rim.
Before leaving with an injury, Brown was on her way to a big game. She finished with 11 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.
The Lady Hawks trailed for the first 3:14 before taking a 7-6 lead on Brewer’s three-point play. They remained in the lead until the fourth quarter. The Lady Crimsons led on three occasions before Brewer’s late-game heroics.
“That’s what she does,” Wootton said. “I told her you’re going to win this game with your head. I told her she was the smartest player on the floor and she played like it.”
Alyson Yingling scored seven; Delany Eastridge scored two for LaRue.
The visiting Lady Hawks scorched Bardstown 71-32 Jan. 3.
Brown had a game-high 32 points, hitting five of nine 3-point attempts, and eight assists. Brewer had 19 points and five assists.
Yingling and Mallory Williams scored eight each. Evans and Hunter Holt scored two each.