Owensboro Catholic is bringing home another girls’ basketball state title. After trailing by as many as 12 points, the Lady Aces turned things around after halftime for a 44-40 win over Walton-Verona in the All “A” Classic state championship.
It’s the third All “A” title for the program, which also won in 2011 and 2013.
Hannah McKay was the unanimous Most Valuable Player of the tournament, finishing with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals in the final game. She scored 6 points in a row to cut the Bearcats lead to 26-24 in a key stretch early in the third quarter.
Mackenzie Keelin, Madelyn Lyon and Sarah Beth Clemens were all named to the All-Tournament Team. With her first score of the night on a free throw, Clemens reached 1,000 points in her career.
Owensboro Catholic (17-6) has now won eight games in a row, stopping a five-game win streak for Walton-Verona (18-6), who leads the 8th Region standings.
The Lady Aces struggled out of the gate. Though they were able to get the ball inside, shots weren’t falling. On the other end, the Bearcats couldn’t penetrate the Catholic defense, but they hit three 3-pointers to take an 11-7 lead after the first quarter.
Head coach Michael Robertson said the Lady Aces just weren’t able to make shots early.
“We were doing a lot of standing,” he said. “When we got into the post, they got in there and were digging. We weren’t being smart. You have to be quick with your decisions. We hesitated a little bit.”
Walton-Verona continued to add to their lead in the second, twice going up by 12 points. The Lady Aces finally got a 3-pointer by Lyon, and a fast break layup by Spencer Harvey cut the deficit to 23-16 at the half.
Down 28-16, McKay went on her personal 6-0 run. A 3-pointer by Harvey gave Catholic their first lead since 5-3 early on, but the Bearcats got a shot at the buzzer for a 30-29 advantage heading into the final frame.
Robertson said McKay’s effort played a big role in helping make the comeback, and it’s part of the reason she was named MVP.
“She just went after the ball,” he said. “She got some big rebounds for us and got some offensive rebounds that she either put up and in or got fouled.”
The fourth quarter was all about the Lady Aces. Lyon hit a jumper and Keelin drove for a bucket to take a 34-32 lead, and Catholic never trailed again.
Keelin added a corner 3, then got a steal and layup for and 8-point lead. The Bearcats threatened late, scoring on a drive and following it up with a long 3-pointer to cut the Catholic lead to 43-40 with 52 seconds to play.
Isabella Henning, who already hit five free throws in the quarter, added one more to cushion the lead and the Lady Aces forced a turnover on the next possession. McKay missed a pair of free throws with only a few seconds on the clock, but it didn’t matter as the Bearcats were unable to score.
Robertson said the halftime adjustment was simply to execute better at both ends.
“We paid attention to the game plan,” he said. “I think our defense got a lot better in the second half.”
Keelin led the team with 11 points and had 4 rebounds. Henning finished with points and 3 steals off the bench. Lyon had 5 points, and Clemens had 3 points and 6 assists.
Owensboro Catholic 7-9-13-15–44
Owensboro Catholic: Mackenzie Keelin 11, Hannah McKay 10, Isabella Henning 8, Spencer Harvey 7, Madelyn Lyon 5, Sarah Beth Clemens 3