After a slow start for the the Henry County Ladycats and a much-improved start for the Eminence Lady Warriors, the host Cats pulled away during the second quarter and built their lead to 54-12 before the final horn sounded.
It was the Ladycats’ ninth straight win over their cross-county rivals, including a 63-6 win on Jan. 23. The Valentine’s Day victory also gave them their first 10-win season since the 2003-04 school year.
The Ladycats scored the game’s first six points, were ahead 8-5 after the first quarter and 23-7 at the half. The Cats led from wire-to-wire in a dominating performance with Jessica Booher headlining the charge with a game-high 20 points. Henry improved to 10-13 while Eminence dropped to 3-19.
“We started out a little slow and we thought Eminence played very hard, especially early in the game,” HCHS coach Todd Gilley said. “But I thought our players fought through it and tried to finish strong. We kept building and building until we got in a groove.”
Compared to the teams’ first meeting this season, EHS coach Carter Martin was much more pleased with this outing. His young Lady Warriors played close to Henry in the early minutes and were down by just three points to start the second quarter. A Candace Wells put-back basket less than two minutes into the second quarter gave the Lady Warriors seven points, which was already more points than they scored against Henry in the entire game three weeks earlier.
“I thought we played very well, we just couldn’t hit our shots,” said Martin, whose team won its third game of the season just two days earlier against Cornerstone Christian. “I think we will definitely improve with more maturity. It was much better than the first time we played them. I thought we ran our offense much better.”
Tyler Sadler scored the game’s first point on a free throw a little more than a minute into the contest. Before Samantha Congleton scored Eminence’s first basket with 2:15 left in the first, Kelley Everidge had hit a jumper and Kelsey Mings had knocked down a three-pointer to give Henry a 6-0 start.
A Wells jumper at 1:13 in the first and a Congleton free throw at 38.1 seconds left the Lady Warriors trailing 8-5. They had a chance to close the gap in the final 25 seconds but could not get off an attempt as they headed into the second quarter behind by three.
During the second eight-minute stretch, though, the Ladycats took control of the game, outscoring Eminence 15-2, which was sparked by a Booher three-pointer and a pair of jumpers from Brittany Crawford and Sadler. At the half, the Cats were comfortable in front 23-7. The only basket Eminence managed to make during the stretch was a put-back from Wells at 5:25.
The storyline continued into the third quarter as the Ladycats continued to stretch their lead. The only points Henry allowed were an inside basket from Congleton and a running bank shot from Keelie Dyson. Metcafle’s free throw with 5:48 remaining in the fourth quarter gave Eminence its final point.
Meanwhile, the Ladycats put on a shooting display with four three-pointers during a three-minute stretch in the fourth quarter — three from eagle-eye shooter Booher and one from Mings. The Cats scored 19 points in the fourth and finished 42 points in front.
To go along with Booher’s 20 points, Mings scored nine, Crawford and Ally Vaughn scored six each, Taylor Clark scored five, Everidge and Sadler scored three each and McKenzie Clifford scored two. For Eminence, Congleton scored six, Wells scored four and Dyson scored two.
During the 2004-05 season — the last time the Eminence girls had defeated Henry — the teams played three times with Henry winning two of them. Since that season, though, the Ladycats have outscored the Warriors 419-115.
Saturday’s win was even more memorable for the Ladycats because it gave them their 10th victory this season. The last time the Cats won 10-plus games was five seasons ago when they went 20-7 and lost to Shelby County by just 11 points in the first round of the 30th District tournament.
Henry played Trimble County Monday night and will close out the regular season against Louisville Western this Wednesday at home starting at 6 p.m. The Ladycats will open the 31st District tournament next Tuesday against host Carroll County at 6 p.m.
Meanwhile, Eminence will play this Thursday against Frankfort at home starting at 6:30 p.m. and close out the regular season against Beechwood this Saturday at home starting at 3 p.m. The Lady Warriors will open the 30th District tournament against host Anderson County next Tuesday at 6 p.m.
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