By MICHAEL CHILDERS, CJ Correspondent
Over the years, there has been a lot of history recorded in the Monticello High School gymnasium.
There are numerous championship banners and retired jerseys along the walls of the gymnasium to commemorate all the history.
The Southwestern Lady Warriors concluded the final chapter of all that history last night, as they came away with a 69-49 victory over McCreary Central last night in Monticello in what is more than likely the final game ever to be played in that old-school gymnasium.
With a 20-point win over the Lady Raiders of McCreary Central, Tim Rice’s Lady Warriors claimed their third 48th District championship banner in four years. After finishing as district runner-up to Wayne County last season, the Southwestern hoops coach was thrilled to see his club cut down the nets once again.
“We thought we had a good opportunity to win it last year, but we didn’t,” began Rice. “You can never win it enough. I’m a competitor, and I want to win it every time I can.”
Southwestern led by as much as 25 points in the contest, but the Lady Raiders would not go away that easily, as they cut the Lady Warrior lead to 13 late in the contest. The ‘Blue and Orange’ would pull away in the final two-plus minutes to win by a 20-point margin.
“I’m pleased with the way we came out of the gate,” stated Rice, who saw his ball club move to 19-11 with the win. “We played great defense in the first half. I think we got a little tired in the fourth quarter and started fouling too much.”
The Lady Warriors, as Rice stated, got off to a hot start, as they grabbed a 14-point, 21-7 first quarter advantage over McCreary Central. Southwestern ended the opening period of hoops action with a 10-0 run, which included a pair of three-pointers from sophomores Destiny Molden and Brittany Combs, along with field goals from sophomore Adison Corder and freshman Samantha Fitzgerald.
Points would be at a premium in the second frame, as Southwestern outscored the Lady Raiders by a 9-7 margin. At the intermission, Rice and company led by 16 points at 30-14.
Southwestern would continue its dominance into the third stanza, outscoring McCreary Central by a margin of 22-13. The Lady Warriors, just as they ended the first period, began the second half with a 9-1 run, which was paced by a pair of treys from Molden.
Heading into the fourth and final quarter, Southwestern looked to have the game in control, as they went into the frame with a 25-point lead over the Lady Raiders. McCreary Central would not go away though, as they outscored the Lady Warriors, 22-13, in the final eight minutes.
The fourth quarter was basically a free-throw shooting contest between Molden and Lady Raider freshman Kaylee Cotton, as the two ladies combined to shoot 23 free-throws. Cotton made ten free-throws, while Molden tallied nine free-throws from the charity stripe.
With a district championship already under the belts, Rice and company will look to make some noise in the Girls 12th Region Tournament, which is set to get underway Wednesday evening at Pulaski County High School.
“Winning tonight helps you for next week, plus it gives the girls a feeling of being a champion,” explained the Lady Warrior coach. “It’s good for us because we’re a young team. We’re looking forward to the region tournament - it should be a really good one.”
Molden finished with a game-high 26 points in the Lady Warrior victory - 20 of those 26 points came in the second half. The sophomore hit four treys in the game also.
Corder and sophomore Dylana Fothergill joined Molden in double figures, scoring 12 points each. Combs hit three treys to finish with nine points, while Fitzgerald chimed in with eight. Freshman Elisabeth Latham, who scored three points, finished with a contest-high eight rebounds.
A quartet of Southwestern players were named to the All-Tournament team: Combs, Corder, Latham, and Molden.
Cotton led the way for the Lady Raiders with 22 points. Kisha Gibson, who nailed a trio of three-pointers, hit double figures with 11 points.
Both Southwestern and McCreary Central will advance to the regional tournament. The draw for the tournament will be held today, so be sure to look for details of those match-ups in an upcoming newspaper, as well as on the web via the Commonwealth Journal’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
MC - 7 7 13 20 - 49
SW - 21 9 22 17 - 69
MCCREARY CENTRAL (16-15): Cotton 22, Gibson 11, Stevens 5, Foster 4, King 3, Terry 2.
SOUTHWESTERN (19-11): Molden 26, Corder 12, Fothergill 12, Combs 9, Fitzgerald 8, Latham 3.