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.
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