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The Lady Hawks defeated Marion County 65-54 Saturday in 5th Region play.
The Region championship game will be played 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Nelson County. LaRue will play E'town.
BARDSTOWN — The LaRue County Lady Hawks were in search of a lift in the second half and it came from an unsuspecting place.
Sophomore guard Delany Eastridge provided a much-needed spark to a stagnant offense 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, 65-54 on Saturday night in the Girls’ 5th Region Tournament semifinals at Nelson County High School.
“Those were two huge shots,” said LaRue County coach Travis 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 junior guard Alexis 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.
Marion County cut the lead to seven on three occasions in the fourth quarter, the last at 57-50, but each time the Lady Hawks were able to pull away, hitting 10-of-14 free throws in the final 6:08.
LaRue County shot 11-of-19 from the field in the second half, including 3-of-6 from the arc.
“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.”
The Lady Hawks (24-6) advance to the region championship for the second consecutive year. Last year, they lost to Marion County, 82-60.
LaRue County meet Elizabethtown in the championship at 6:30 p.m. today after the Lady Panthers (28-4) cruised past Nelson County, 66-39 in Saturday’s early semifinal.
“That’s been our goal,” said Brown, who had 22 points and 13 rebounds. “That’s not our main goal. We want to win it. But you have to take it one step at a time and this was a step to getting there.”
Trailing 6-5, junior forward Alyson Yingling scored on back-to-back layups and then Brewer was fouled on a 3. She made all three foul shots to push the lead to 12-6 with 2:22 remaining in the first quarter.
After a layup by freshman forward Te Te Adams, Brewer drove in for a layup and Brown had a putback to build a 16-8 – their largest of the first half – with 1:32 left.
Marion County (16-15) didn’t get away as freshman guard Haeli Howard, who finished with 17 points, scored five straight points and then senior forward Alexus Calhoun and senior guard Timmera Burton had consecutive layups to pull within 18-17 with 7:06 remaining before halftime.
Brewer made two straight jumpers to push the lead to 22-17 and the Lady Hawks went into the locker room with a 26-22 advantage despite only shooting 36 percent in the first half (9-of-25).
Wootton said he warned his team the Lady Knights were going to be a difficult challenge despite LaRue County owning a 10-point victory over them earlier this season.
“I think we settled down the second half,” Wootton said. “We played smarter and we hit a couple of shots. I told the girls Marion County wasn’t going to be very easy because they’re so well-coached and they didn’t want to give up that four straight streak.”
After ending Marion County’s streak, the Lady Hawks have their sights set on winning the program’s first region title.
“This feels good to get back to the region championship, but we’re not finished yet,” Brewer said.