Last night at Pulaski County High School, the Southwestern Lady Warriors pulled away from the Danville Lady Admirals in the second half to win and advanced to the 12th Region Championship.
This match-up was highly anticipated as the teams came into the game as two of the top teams in the region with Southwestern at 18-3 and Danville at 16-5. The teams met early in January, where the Lady Warriors came out on top at 61-57.
The first half was a closely contested bout with Southwestern leading 28-25 at halftime, but after the break the Lady Warriors turned up the heat and began to pull away.
In the third period Southwestern scorched the Lady Admirals from behind the three point line with five threes in the quarter for 15 or their 19 points.
Freshman Kinsley Molden hit three of them, and sophomore Ayden Smiddy and freshman Payton Acey added one each. Their other four points came from a pair of inside baskets by junior Kaylee Young.
On the other side, Danville’s Desiree Tandy put in four shots from inside the paint to keep the Lady Admirals competitive and Camryn Preston and Jenna Akers each added a bucket as well. Despite Tandy’s effort, Danville trailed by nine at 47-38 heading into the fourth quarter.
After a couple baskets by the Lady Admirals early in the fourth, a three and free throw by Ay. Smiddy, inside shot by Acey, and three from Young gave Southwestern their biggest lead of the game at 56-43.
Danville was not willing to go down without a fight though. After that point, the Lady Admirals went on a 9-0 run featuring inside buckets by J. Akers, Tandy, and Lara Akers and a three from L. Akers. This run cut Danville’s deficit to just four at 56-52 late in the fourth quarter.
However, after the run by the Lady Admirals, they got into some foul trouble and sent senior Alexa Smiddy to the line twice and Ay. Smiddy to the line once. Together they went 5-6 and Southwestern forced a couple of turnovers and empty possessions on the other end.
The Lady Warriors closed the game forcing a pair of turnovers which Young turned into points each time on the other end and Southwestern won it 65-54.
“Proud of our team’s effort tonight,” said Southwestern head coach Junior Molden. “I thought our attention to detail was on point most of the game. I thought my four guards, Alexa, Kaylee, Kinsley, and Ayden, left it all on the floor tonight which made a great pressing Danville team have to back up into half court more. I gambled with Alexa guarding their center, Tandy, and I thought that gave us a good start. Coach Mason adjusted and made me do a few different things defensively in the second half. We knew Danville would make a run and they got it back to 56-52 with about three minutes left, but we had a good timeout to recompose and pull out the win.”
Although the Lady Warriors controlled the second half, Danville made a strong push just before halftime.
Southwestern opened the game with the upper hand outscoring the Lady Admirals 20-12 in the first quarter with Al. Smiddy leading the charge with 12 points in the period.
However, Danville stormed back in the second period by outscoring the Lady Warriors 19-13 and cutting the Southwestern lead to just three heading into halftime. Southwestern came out after the break and answered to eventually win it.
The Lady Admirals closed their season with a very impressive 16-7 final record and battled a top ten ranked Southwestern hard throughout the night. Tandy led their team in scoring with a game high 18 points, and L. Akers also reached double figures with 10.
Southwestern was extremely balanced on the night and worked as a team to land a shot at a 12th Region Championship. Young, Al. Smiddy, Ay. Smiddy, and Molden all reached double digits on the night with Young leading the team at 16, Al. Smiddy at 15, Ay. Smiddy at 14, and Molden at 12.
The Lady Warriors will take a 19-3 record into the 12th Region Championship game where they will face the Mercer County Lady Titans Sunday afternoon at Pulaski County High School.
“Mercer is who I picked to come out of the top bracket,” said coach Molden. “Coach Spivey put a tough schedule together for them and I think that paid off for her club in this regional. They will leave it all on the floor like us. I’m going to watch a lot of film on them overnight and will use tomorrow to game plan and see if we can put together another strong effort for a regional championship on Sunday.”
SWHS - 20 - 8 - 19 - 18 - 65
DHS - 12 - 13 - 13 - 16 - 54
Southwestern - Young 16, Al. Smiddy 15, Ay. Smiddy 14, Molden 12, Acey 7, Loveless 1.
Danville - Tandy 18, L. Akers 10, Preston 8, Burnett 6, Mays 6, J. Akers 4, Bradshaw 2.