The stakes could not have been much higher for this 37th District rivalry girls basketball game.
A number of plays at different points in the game determined whether the host Scott Eagles (11-8 overall) put themselves in position to earn the district’s automatic bid into the 10th Region Tournament or the Campbell County Camels (8-14) won it after knocking off Bishop Brossart in its other district seed game in December. The Eagles ended up making enough plays to earn that shot for the top seed in the district tournament at Campbell County Middle School with a 41-38 victory.
“These district games are going to be a battle no matter who we play,” said Eric Pouncy, Scott head coach. “You have to pay attention to everybody, see the things they do, limit easy shots and defend. Both sides played really good defense. I’m proud of our team for fighting at the end.”
The game stayed physical throughout its entire 32 minutes as the teams made each other earn everything. Scott committed 17 fouls and made 10 of 26 free throws and Campbell County hit 9 of 15 free throws and committing 18 fouls.
“We talk about it a lot. You have to value the ball every single possession,” said Davey Johnson, Campbell County head coach. “I tell them all the time, we’re going to be in hard-fought battles. Our defense is really good. But we don’t score a lot. So if we can take care of the basketball and make free throws, we usually come out on top. But (Friday), we did not do either one of those.”
The Camels had the game’s lone double-digit scorer as freshman guard/forward Isabella Jayasuriya made all six free throws on her way to 17 points. But the Eagles saw nine different players score led by sophomore guard Kaia Peterson’s nine points compared to six for the Camels.
Neither team led by more than three points in the first half. Sophomore guard Ariana Patterson made a three from the right wing with two seconds left in the first quarter to give the Eagles an 11-9 lead after one quarter.
The second quarter saw five lead changes. Campbell County took a 19-16 halftime lead after Jayasuriya scored with 2:10 left in the half.
“The first half was all free throws and lay-ups,” Pouncy said. “That’s what we stress every single day. When we do that, we’re a pretty good team. When we don’t make free throws and lay-ups, it makes it a lot harder to beat any team. I tell them, ‘Next play.’ If you miss free throws, you have to go to the next play or the next free throw you shoot.”
The Camels kept it for the first half of the third quarter. Jayasuriya put the Camels up 23-19 with 4:43 left in the quarter before Scott responded with an 8-0 run after senior guard Autumn Ponder scored with 2:33 left in the quarter. Jayasuriya hit two free throws with 50.9 seconds left in the quarter to make it 27-25 Scott after three quarters.
The Camels retook the lead just 10 seconds into the fourth quarter at 28-27 when senior forward Keauna Cullum hit a three from the right wing on her way to eight points. Then after Patterson scored and junior guard Alli Collins hit a free throw, Scott responded with a 4-0 run to go up for good at 33-29 following a senior forward Kayla Peterson score.
After Collins made two free throws, Kaia Peterson hit a three-point play and senior post Kayla Overman hit a free throw to give Scott its biggest lead of the game at 37-31 with 2:34 left. But Jayasuriya hit a triple from the top of the key then two free throws after senior guard Presley Grant hit two to trim the lead to 39-36 with 1:43 left in the game.
“You have to keep your head up and keep attacking,” Grant said. “You never know what (refs) are going to call. We have a lot of depth and talent. I’m excited for the future.”
With 24.9 seconds left, Campbell County senior guard Kennedy Johnson had an offensive putback to trim the Scott lead to 39-38. At the other end, Scott senior guard Ava Coleman made 1 of 2 free throws with 22.7 seconds left to make it 40-38 Eagles and Campbell County called a 30-second timeout.
“We talk about confidence all the time,” Johnson said. “I tell them I’ve never taken a girl out of a game for missing a shot. I never will. That’s not a thing. I don’t take girls out for turnovers. I take girls out when I see their actions after that missed shot or that turnover. If you see the ball go through, it makes everything easier. We saw a bunch on Tuesday. I thought that would maybe give us some confidence for (Friday). Scott is good. (The Eagles) are deep and they have a lot of seniors. Similar to Brossart, I told them the first team to 40 wins. Surely enough, it was 41-38.”
Campbell County got a nice look to tie the game near the basket, but did not make it and Scott senior guard Francheska DeLuna made 1-of-2 free throws with 5.6 seconds left to make the final score. Campbell County did not get off a shot at the other end.
“After that first one when I saw that the release was way off, I knew that I had to lock in and make the second one, put us up by three,” DeLuna said. “We knew that Campbell could shot. But there would be off nights for them so I had to knock down that second one. Once I saw the ball go through that net, it just felt really great and my teammates cheering us on.”
Scott plays at St. Henry (10-9) on Saturday at 3 p.m. Campbell County plays at Dixie Heights on Monday at 7 p.m.
Cooper 67, Mercy 64
Cooper (17-2) earned another game in the Republic Bank Louisville Invitational Tournament rallying to beat Mercy (16-8) in the battle of the Jaguars. Cooper plays Louisville DuPont Manual in the tournament semifinals at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Senior 6-foot-2-inch forward/center Whitney Lind led the way scoring 31 points and junior guard/forward Liz Freihofer scored 10 with senior guard Kay Freihofer scoring nine.
Sophomore standout forward Leah Macy led Mercy with 37 points and sophomore guard Alyssa Murphy scored 17.
Conner 59, St. Henry 25
The Cougars (14-6) won their third in a row with a 9th Region win at home against the Crusaders (10-9).
Junior guard Anna Hamilton led Conner with 16 points and senior guard Kelsee Simpson scored 10 with junior guard Ava Brown scoring eight.
Junior center/forward Mia Ryan led the Crusaders with eight points.
Conner plays at Owen County on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. St. Henry plays host to Scott at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Other Girls Basketball Scores
Ryle 57, Boyd County 50
Augusta 72, Newport 36
Dixie Heights 50, Walton-Verona 35
Beechwood 55, Lloyd Memorial 50