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Henry Co. girls get to finals

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Ladycats fall to Grayson Co. in championship game of Madison Southern Classic

By Tommie Kendall

On the final day of the year, the Ladycats almost ended 2008 with a bang but instead had to settle with second-place honors in the Madison Southern Holiday Classic after defeating Lone Oak, Madison Southern and Pineville, then losing to Grayson County in the finals on New Year’s Eve.

During the three-day stretch last week, the Henry County girls’ basketball team defeated Lone Oak (53-24) on Monday, Madison Southern (44-35) and Pineville (54-50) on Tuesday, then lost to Grayson (58-34) on Wednesday for the title. The Ladycats entered 2009 on an upswing with the runner-up finish and a 5-4 record.

“Overall, I thought it (Madison Southern Classic) can be a big help for us down the road,” Henry coach Todd Gilley said. “We thought we showed signs of the possibilities for us and it was a stepping stone for the rest of the season. It should definitely help us grow.”

The Madison Classic was divided into two separate pools with the winner of each pool playing for the title in the final game. The Ladycats were a perfect 3-0 in pool play, which advanced them to the championship contest against Grayson, who improved to an impressive 11-1 record after the tournament and was also perfect in pool play with wins over Williamsburg, Mason County and Garrard County.

As for the Ladycats, they opened pool play with a 29-point victory over Lone Oak. They trailed for most of the first half, including a 17-8 deficit after the first quarter, and didn’t take their first lead until Taylor Clark knocked down a jumper at the buzzer to put the Cats in front 24-23 at the break.

During the third-quarter stretch, Ally Vaughn hit three-pointers on three consecutive trips down the court and Kelsey Mings added another to stretch Henry’s lead to 41-29 after the third. The Ladycats then held on down the stretch, which pointed them in the right direction with three more games in the next two days.

For Henry, Mings scored 16 points, Vaughn scored 11, Jessica Booher scored eight, Tyler Sadler scored seven, Clark scored six, Brittany Crawford scored three and Kelley Everidge scored two.

The following day, Henry played two games — at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. — with the first against the host Madison Southern squad. No Henry player reached double figures in scoring while nine different players filled the stat sheet with points: Vaughn scored nine, Clark and Booher scored eight each, Crawford and Sadler scored five each, Mings and Everidge scored three each, Katie Setters scored two and Jessica Pyles scored one.

“This was the first game that Mings didn’t play well but we still played well as a team,” Gilley said of his starting point guard who is one of the Cats’ leading scorers and go-to player. “That’s a good sign because we had other people step up for us.”

After the low-scoring first quarter, Henry was in front 5-4. Madison then went ahead for most of the second quarter before the Ladycats knocked down another basket at the buzzer to put them in front 20-19 at the half. The Cats were in front by 12 points with five minutes left in the fourth quarter when they started to rest players to save their legs for the game later in the day, Gilley said.

Against Pineville a few hours later, Booher scored 19 points and Mings added 10 as the Ladycats were able to hold off Pineville for the 54-50 victory and a chance to play for the title the following day.

After trailing 29-20 at the half, the Ladycats went on an explosive run during the third to outscore Pineville 23-9 and go in front 43-38 with a quarter remaining. The Cats then held on down the stretch.

To go along with the scoring from Booher and Mings, Clark scored nine points, Vaughn scored eight, Crawford scored six and Setters scored two. As for Pineville, its top player scored a game-high 31 points, including 20 during the second-quarter stretch when Pineville outscored Henry 20-9.

But Henry went on its own run during the third quarter, which Gilley was more than pleased.

“Considering that was our seventh quarter in the day, we thought that was a pretty good sign,” he said.

In the finals the next day, Grayson was in front 9-5 after the first quarter, 20-14 after the second, 39-22 after the third and came away with the 58-34 win to claim the title. For Henry, Mings scored 15, Vaughn scored eight, Crawford scored five, and Clark, Sadler and Pyles scored two each.

The Ladycats played well during the first half, Gilley said, but they were still trailing Grayson, which frustrated the Cats.

“We were in a position that we hadn’t been in before with this group — we were playing well but we were falling behind,” Gilley said. “Frustration just built up on our part. We have to do a better job at handling a situation like that.”

Gallatin 46, Henry 35: The Henry County girls’ basketball team opened 2009 with a 46-35 loss to Gallatin County Saturday night to even its record to 5-5 this season, including 1-2 in 31st District play that includes Gallatin, Carroll County and Owen County.

Gallatin was in front 12-11 after the first quarter, Henry was ahead 18-17 after the second and Gallatin went back ahead 32-30 after the third before Gallatin outscored Henry 14-5 during the final quarter for the 11-point victory. The two squads have played twice this season with Gallatin also winning 67-54 on Dec. 11. Gallatin is now 6-6 overall and 2-1 against district opponents.

“I wasn’t happy with our play,” Henry coach Toddy Gilley said of his team’s disappointing loss. “I didn’t think we took care of the things that we needed to and didn’t use what we learned from the previous week (in the Madison Southern Holiday Classic).”

Jessica Booher and Taylor Clark led Henry with 13 points each, while Kelsey Mings scored four, Brittany Crawford scored three, and Kelley Everidge and Tyler Sadler scored one each. Mings was taken to the emergency room afterwards with stomach problems but still played a majority of the game despite the pain, Gilley said.

Henry hosted Carroll Tuesday night and will travel to Owen this Friday in two more district games. The final regular-season district game will be Jan. 26 at Carroll in a contest that was delayed due to the weather.

The team with the top record in the district will play the last-place team in the opening round of the postseason next month, while the second- and third-seeded teams based on district records will play each other in the other first-round contest. The top two teams from each district will advance to the regional tournament, with the top team from each region advancing to the Sweet 16.

E-mail us about this story at sports@hclocal.com.