Lady Cats Come Back From 11-Point Deficit To Win
Darren Doyle, story: Madison Doyle, photos:
After a good start, the Lady Cats struggled all over the court until about three minutes left in regulation. Edmonson County's shooting troubles were widespread and they'd failed to connect on a single three pointer until 2:18 left in the fourth when a series of three of them gave the Lady Cats their first lead since early in the first quarter.
With 2:09 left in the fourth and Edmonson County trailing 39-31, Senior Peyton Martin nailed a three to get the Lady Cats within five. It was only Martin's second field goal of the game, but inched Edmonson County closer than they'd been since early in the game. After missed opportunities from both McLean and Edmonson to score on their next respective possessions, the Lady Cats blocked a McLean County shot and Peyton Martin drilled another three with 1:35 left, with EC trailing 37-39. Edmonson County called timeout to set their defense as McLean would take possession and would be going the length of the court.
McLean attempted a long pass on the inbound, but senior Katlin Collins picked it off and saved it from going out of bounds. The ball was recovered by Peyton Martin who found an open Caitlin Simon who busted the Lady Cats' third consecutive three pointer, which finished off a 9-0 run in less than one minute. It was the first lead (40-39) for Edmonson County since the first quarter.
McLean was unable to score on the next possession and Edmonson's Lauren Ballance was fouled with 30.6 seconds remaining. She was unable to connect at the free throw line. McLean grabbed the rebound and took it straight to the rim. What first appeared to be a clean strip by Ballance was called a foul from the official and McLean would have an opportunity to regain the lead with 18.6 seconds remaining.
The Lady Cougars tied the score at 40-40 after the first made free throw and Edmonson County called a timeout. McLean missed the second attempt and Edmonson County pulled the rebound with one more attempt to win the game. Caitlin Simon was forced to put up a heavily contested, off-balance shot that missed as the game was extended to overtime.
Edmonson County's defense was key once again in the overtime as McLean County was held to only one field goal as the Lady Cats held on for a 50-43 win.
Coach Kevin Jackson discussed the rollercoaster ride in the comeback win.
"We knew it was going to be physical, aggressive, and all the things we talked about. We watched them on film and knew what to expect, but sometimes girls don't understand the physicality of the game until you get in it, and it looked like it took us three and a half quarters to figure that out," he said. "I'm so proud of these girls and if I had the game ball, I'd give it to my assistant, Tyra Parsley Ballance, who played for me 23 years ago. She kept motivating the kids to keep digging, fighting, and keep clawing. I was about ready to throw in the towel a couple of times, I'm telling you, I was."
While the majority of scoring usually comes from Simon and Martin, each of them struggled until the end of the game. Jackson credited the duo for never giving up, in spite of a very tough shooting night for the pair, and he also praised the rest of the team for filling individual roles as well as providing a team effort from beginning to end. He also continued his thoughts on Coach Tyra Ballance's role in the game from the bench.
"My game ball goes to Tyra for believing in these kids as much as she does, fighting for them, and getting them to pull. During the timeouts, she was cheering, she was saying 'we can do this.' I was thinking, 'I don't know if we can or not, Tyra...we're down 10 with about 4 minutes to go,' but it just speaks volumes (of our team)."
Simon led the way in offense with 23 points and 7 rebounds, Martin finished with 13 points, Harrison added 6, Vincent had 3, Logsdon and Collins each had 2, and Ballance added 1.
The Lady Cats are now 15-3 on the season and are scheduled to take on Frederick Fraize in round two on Saturday at 12pm noon. Winter weather is likely to move that game to Monday and we'll have updates as soon as they become available.