By MICHAEL CHILDERS, CJ Correspondent
It’s been a tough week for Southwestern High School basketball fans.
On Tuesday night, the Southwestern Warriors boys team was stunned by Mercer County in the opening round of the 12th Region Boys Tournament, as they fell to the Titans in overtime by a score of 57-54 at Lincoln County High School.
Last night was another heartbreaking game for the Warrior Nation, as the Lady Warriors were eliminated from postseason play with a 51-48 loss to Boyle County in the first round of the 12th Region Girls Tournament at Pulaski County High School.
The Lady Warriors led by as much as 14 points in the contest, but a late surge from the Boyle County Lady Rebels allowed them to sneak past Southwestern to advance to the semifinals, where they will square-off with Casey County.
Southwestern defeated the Lady Rebels by 27 points way back on November 30th by a final score of 61-34. Unfortunately for the Lady Warriors, things were the other way around last night when the final horn sounded.
Lady Warrior head coach Tim Rice took the three-point loss to Boyle County to heart, calling it the toughest loss of his long coaching career.
“It was one of the toughest losses I’ve ever had in my life,” told Rice. “I’m going to take the blame for the loss for not having them prepared.”
Heading into the fourth and final frame, the Lady Warriors held an 11-point, 43-32 lead over Boyle County. Things would quickly change though, as Boyle County would open the quarter with three consecutive baskets to cut the Southwestern lead to six points at 43-37.
Just under two minutes into the fourth period, the Lady Warriors got their first points of the frame, as sophomore Brittany Combs got past the Boyle County press for a lay-up. Following the Combs basket, the Lady Rebels went on a tear, coming up with an 8-0 run to tie the contest up at 45-45 with 3:30 left.
With 2:52 remaining on the clock, sophomore Destiny Molden went one-for-two from the charity stripe to give Southwestern the lead back at 46-45. Kalin Bottoms gave the Lady Rebels their first lead since early in the first quarter after coming up with a basket to put her club ahead, 47-46, with 1:42 left to play.
Molden hit two free-throws with 1:09 left in the ballgame, which allowed Southwestern to grab a one-point, 48-47 advantage. On the following possession, Chelsea Gill scored a lay-up to put Boyle County out front, 49-48.
Southwestern sophomore Adison Corder took the ball to the basket on the Lady Warriors’ next possession. Contact was made on the play, which was originally called a foul, but later overturned to a charge, handing the ball to Boyle County.
The Lady Rebels had a pair of players go one-of-two from the line to give them a three-point, 51-48 lead with 14 seconds left. Southwestern would get one final attempt to tie the ballgame up, but the shot would fall to the right as the buzzer sounded.
It was an ugly fourth quarter for the ‘Blue and Orange,’ as the Lady Warriors committed seven turnovers in the final eight minutes of play, which was mostly due to the Boyle County defensive pressure. The Lady Rebels outscored Southwestern in the final quarter by a 19-5 margin.
Rice attributed some of the lackluster fourth quarter to the youth of his team, a squad that starts four sophomores and one freshman.
“We had an 11-point lead going into the fourth quarter,” said the Lady Warrior hoops coach. “I had to burn three timeouts because we couldn’t get the ball across the center line. As long we executed, we scored. When things got a little wild and got chaotic, we can’t play like that. When it got wild, we didn’t respond and that’s the facts.”
“I think our youth showed a lot tonight. Even though we have a lot of experience, the pressure got to us a little bit, and we didn’t respond.”
The Lady Warriors led Boyle County at the end of the first three quarters. After one quarter, Southwestern grabbed a 19-8 lead over the Lady Rebels, but that lead would shrink to 24-19 at the half. Southwestern would rule the roost in the third stanza, using an 11-0 run to outscore Boyle County by a margin of 19-11.
Corder and freshman Samantha Fitzgerald led the charge for Southwestern, as they both tallied 14 points each in the loss to Boyle County. Combs finished with eight points, while Molden and freshman Elisabeth Latham both tallied six points each.
Boyle County had a pair of players hit double figures, led by Hannah Harris’ 13 points. Bottoms hit double digits, scoring ten points in the Lady Rebels’ win.
The loss brought an end to the Lady Warriors 2012-13 season, a year that saw them tallied a 48th District title and finish with an overall record of 19-12.
Boyle County will square-off with Casey County on Monday evening at 6 p.m. at Pulaski County High School.
First round action continues tonight at Pulaski County, as Somerset will square-off with Lincoln County at 6 p.m., while Mercer County and McCreary Central will go head-to-head in the nightcap, which is set to get underway at 7:30 p.m.
BC - 8 13 11 19 - 51
SW - 19 5 19 5 - 48
BOYLE COUNTY (18-13): Harris 13, Bottoms 10, Smith 9, Gill 8, Richards 6, Foster 3, Holton 2.
SOUTHWESTERN (19-12): Corder 14, Fitzgerald 14, Combs 8, Molden 6, Latham 6.