CORBIN — For the second straight year the Bell County Lady Cats had their season come to an end with a loss to Corbin in the 13th Region Tournament.
The Lady Cats hit just one of their first 14 shots from the field in the second half as the Lady Redhounds turned a six-point deficit into a nine-point lead. Corbin hit their free throws late and to hold off a Bell rally and went on to a 57-49 semifinal win.
“We were up six at halftime and I felt like our focus and energy coming out for the second half was good. We were in a pretty good spot, but we missed some shots in the third quarter,” Bell County coach David Teague said. “We some good looks but just couldn’t get them to fall.”
Corbin (25-7) advances to play Harlan in Sunday’s championship game at 3 p.m. The Lady Dragons pulled out a 47-46 win over Clay County in Saturday’s other semifinal.
Bell County had won both regular season meetings on Corbin’s home floor, but Lady Hound coach Jason McDaniel said he was encouraged after studying the tape from those games.
“After the last game in February I didn’t feel very good, but after watching the film I saw the we played pretty good,” he said. “There were some things that we focused on that we were able to execute. We wanted to limit their offensive rebounds and I know they didn’t have many. We tried to close out on their shooters the best we could. In the first half they got loose a little bit, in the second half we got in.”
Bell County finished the game shooting 40 percent (18 of 45), with a six of 14 effort from long range. They made seven of their ten free throw attempts. Corbin held a 25-18 rebounding advantage and limited the Lady Cats to just three offensive rebounds in the game.
The Lady Redhounds hit 17 of their 39 shots in the game(44 percent), including four of 16 from 3-point range. They were 19 of 25 from the free throw line.
Senior guard Kayla Wilson finished with 18 points and senior forward Sarah Ashley 16 to lead the Lady Redhounds.
Junior guard Maci Morris led Bell County with 23 points. Senior Morgan Garnett added ten and Jess Sanders nine.
“We had talked the last couple of days about how important rebounding was going to be,” Teague said. “They hurt us bad on the boards and hurt us by getting to loose balls in the second half.”
Corbin opened the game playing straight man and the Lady Cats took advantage. They hit seven of their 11 shots in the first quarter to take an 18-11 lead. Morris scored seven points in the first quarter, Garnett converted a three-point play, Kelli Smith hit a 3-pointer and Sanders also scored three points.
The Lady Hounds switched to an aggressive diamond-and-one late in the first period and it started to slow the Lady Cats in the second. Corbin closed within two on a 3-pointer by Jaclyn Jewell. But Sanders hit two 3-pointers and Garnett was fouled while making a trey and converted the four-point play to give the Lady Cats a 28-22 lead at halftime.
Bell hit 50 percent of their shots in the first half (10 of 20), but made just one of 11 in the third quarter. Corbin got 3s from Kayla and Miranda Wilson and then Ashley converted a three-point play to put the Lady Hounds on top 31-30 at the 2:32 mark of the period and it was 33-30 after three.
The Lady Cats would miss their first three shots in the fourth quarter and Corbin was willing to run plenty of clock on their possessions after Kayla Wilson converted a thee-point play to push the lead to six. One free throw from Ashley and two from Wilson made it 39-30 and the score was 41-32 after an Ashley basket with about 3:30 to play.
“Both teams really like to play fast, but our girls got a little poise there in the second half and took some time off the clock,” McDaniel said. “From what I’ve seen Bell County doesn’t really like to press and we’ve got good ball-handlers.”
Morris had made Bell County’s only basket in the third quarter and had hit two free throws in the fourth. She did her best to get the Lady Cats back in the game late, scoring 12 of her 23 points over the final 3:15.
“Once they got that lead, they started holding the basketball and made us come out and get them,” Teague said. “They’re a hard team to press because their guards are so good. Then when you foul them they do a good job at the free throw line. They didn’t give us a whole lot of opportunities to make a run at them.”
Bell got as close as 47-43 on a Garnett 3-pointer with 1:43 to play but Corbin hit 10 of 12 free throws down the stretch — Kayla Wilson hit seven of eight — as they went on to the eight-point win.
“We stepped up and hit our free throws,” McDaniel added. “Kayla Wilson, Miranda Wilson, Sarah out there handling the basketball, Natalye Gallagher down in the post — I think the last month of the season we’ve been playing good basketball. Natalye has really matured and she’s been a huge difference-maker for us anchoring the post.”
The Lady Cats finish the season with a record of 25-5. It was the final game for seniors Garnett and Kaitlyn Taylor.
“The kids set a lot of goals and we attained a few of those. We won 25 games and had a good year. The kids worked hard for us, but you still feel like you didn’t reach the ultimate goal that you wanted to reach,” Teague said. “It stinks that we didn’t come up with the one that we wanted, but it was fun coaching this group. We saw a lot of progress out of some individual players and we had some kids finish up their careers strong. I’m proud of them.”
Corbin will be trying to repeat as 13th Region champions on Sunday when they take on Harlan at 3 p.m. at The Arena.
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Miranda Wilson 3-11 1-1 8, Kayla Wilson 3-7 11-12 18, Natalye Gallagher 3-6 2-2 8, Sarah Ashley 5-10 5-8 16, Brooklyn Ashurst1-3 0-0 2, Meghan Blackburn 1-1 0-0 2, Jaclyn Jewell 1-1 0-2 3, Kaitlyn Waddle 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-39 19-25 57.
BELL COUNTY (25-5)
Morgan Garnett 3-5 2-2 10, Jess Sanders 3-8 1-2 9, Maci Morris 9-21 4-6 23, Kelli Smith 2-7 0-0 5, Katrina Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Sarah Collins 1-3 0-0 2, Allison Howard 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-45 7-10 49.
|3-point goals: Corbin 4-16 (Ashley 1-2, MWilson 1-7, KWilson 1-4, Jewell 1-1, Ashurst 0-2), Bell County 6-14 (Garnett 2-4, Sanders 2-5, Morris 1-3, Smith 1-2). Rebounds: Corbin 25 (MWilson 8), Bell County 18 (Morris 7). Assists: Corbin 11 (KWilson 6), Bell County 9 (Johnson 3, Morris 3). Turnovers: Corbin 13, Bell County 14. Total fouls: Corbin 13, Bell County 22. Fouled out: Bell County (Johnson, Smith).|