Lady Aces use strong first half to advance to semifinals

February 27, 2019 | 11:31 pm

Updated February 27, 2019 | 11:31 pm

Hannah McKay drives in for a score in Owensboro Catholic's win over McLean County in the girls' basketball 3rd Region Tournament. | Photo by Ryan Richardson

The Owensboro Catholic girls’ basketball team rode a dominant first half to a 55-34 victory over McLean County in Wednesday’s opening round of the 3rd Region Tournament. It’s the fifth consecutive victory for the Lady Aces, who earned a spot in the tournament semifinals.

Catholic (25-7) took their first lead on a 3-pointer by Mackenzie Keelin 1:30 into the game, and they never trailed again. McLean County (14-17) didn’t score for the final 3 minutes of the quarter as the Lady Aces stretched their lead to 14-6.

The scoring drought for the Lady Cougars continued well into the second period. Aside from a pair of free throws, McLean County didn’t score again until the 2:42 mark of the quarter.

At the other end, Hannah McKay accounted for nearly all of the scoring for the Lady Aces in the second frame.

Owensboro Catholic vs. McLean County | Photo by Ryan Richardson
Owensboro Catholic vs. McLean County | Photo by Ryan Richardson

McKay started a scoring run with a back-to-back fast break layups, and she added 6 more points inside. Isabella Henning and Ally Maggard also scored a bucket each, and both came off assists from McKay. The only other score came on a layup by Caroline Reid just before half, giving the Lady Aces a 30-13 advantage.

The third quarter swung heavily in favor of the Lady Cougars, who used a 9-2 run to open the half. The only bucket for Catholic came from McKay late in the frame, though they did hit six free throws to help keep a double-digit lead.

“We went to sleep after halftime,” said head coach Michael Robertson. “I don’t feel like we came out ready to play in the second half. In the third quarter we let them drive. We weren’t on help side at all. It was just a poor effort in third quarter.”

McLean County continued to fight back, twice getting within 9 points in the fourth quarter.

“That team is not going to give up,” Robertson said. “They’re feisty. He does a great job with them over there. They don’t quit.”

Owensboro Catholic vs. McLean County | Photo by Ryan Richardson
Owensboro Catholic vs. McLean County | Photo by Ryan Richardson

Catholic controlled the final 5 minutes of the game to pull away for the win. Sarah Beth Clemens, who had missed a handful of games, made her return with 6:02 to play. She scored 6 consecutive points to push the lead to 48-34, and the Lady Cougars had no answer.

Robertson said the key to getting the big lead early was relying on a defense that’s able to push the pace and score quickly.

“We were able to turn them over (in the second quarter),” he said. “When we turned them over, we got easy buckets. I still think we didn’t get as many easy buckets as we probably should have. But overall, we did a good job getting out and running. That’s the difference in the game.”

Catholic now advances to a semifinal matchup at 6:30 p.m. Saturday with Breckinridge County (21-9), who pulled away for a 59-42 victory over Trinity in the first game Wednesday. In their meeting two weeks ago, the Lady Aces beat the Lady Tigers 56-45.

“We’ve got to get stronger mentally,” Robertson said after Wednesday’s win. “Survive and advance. The next one is going to be tough. Both teams are going to be ready to play. I think it should be a good one.”

McLean Co. 6-7-14-7–34
O. Catholic 14-16-8-17–55
O. Catholic: Hannah McKay 20, Makenzie Keelin 8, Sarah Beth Clemens 6, Caroline Reid 5, Ally Maggard 4, Madelyn Lyon 4, Isabella Henning 4, Spencer Harvey 2, Randchelle Johnson 2

February 27, 2019 | 11:31 pm

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