With six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter last Monday night, the Henry County Ladycats cut their deficit to just three points against the defending 31st District basketball champions Carroll County. Playing on the comforts of their home court, the Ladycats were right where they wanted to be.
But the 39-36 score was as close as the Cats would get as Carroll's suffocating defense held Henry in check for the rest of the game and its offense used a 13-0 run to pull away to a convincing 52-36 win.
The Carroll Lady Panthers have won the district title the previous three seasons, and they proved why in the final six minutes against a young Henry squad.
"Defensively, we're playing well right now, but offensively, we aren't where we want to be yet," Henry coach Todd Gilley said. "Carroll has a small team but they are very quick, and we didn't handle their pressure well."
Carroll's defense forced Henry to cough the ball up 20-plus times.
The Lady Panthers were ahead 12-10 following the opening quarter and 31-21 at the half before Henry closed the gap to 37-33 during the third. The gap eventually shrunk to 39-36 a few minutes into the final period, but grew from there.
Carroll knocked down a three-point basket and converted on four quick points after a pair of Henry turnovers to stretch the advantage to 10 points. Carroll then went to a spread offense, while Henry was forced to chase the ball around the court for the rest of the game.
The speed and accurate shooting of guard Amber Girdy gave Henry fits all night. Girdy knocked down three rainbow-like three-pointers, finished with numerous steals, which resulted in easy layups, and scored a game-high 23 points.
For Henry, the leading scorer was freshman Taylor Clark, who finished with nine points. Jean-Anne Moore added eight points, Kelsy Mings scored six, Brittany Crawford scored four, Jessica Booher scored three, and Kelley Everidge, Jenny Kozora and Tyler Sadler chipped in two points apiece.
On a positive note, Gilley's been very pleased with the play he's seen from Moore, he said. The lone senior, who plays in the post, leads a team that includes no juniors and a roster filled with freshmen and sophomores.
"She's starting to exert herself as a leader and I think the team is starting to follow her lead," Gilley said. "It's something this team really needs with all our youth."
Owen 39, Henry 28: The Henry County Ladycats went seven crucial minutes without a basket last Thursday night at Owen County, which led to a 39-28 loss to the Lady Rebels.
With Owen clinging on to a small lead, the Ladycats didn't score in the final four minutes of the third quarter and first three minutes of the fourth. Owen also had a tough time putting the ball in the basket during the stretch, but finally managed to pull away.
"They scored a couple of times to break it up, and we couldn't get over the hump," Henry coach Todd Gilley said.
Henry missed 12 shots from the free-throw line (6-of-18), which also led to the 11-point loss.
Kelsey Mings was the top Henry scorer with nine points.
Taylor 54, Henry 24: The Henry County Ladycats were down by just two points at the half (17-15) Saturday afternoon against Taylor County, but scored just nine points during the final two quarters and allowed Taylor to score 37 in Henry's 54-24 loss.
Henry didn't score for the first seven minutes of the third quarter, and only managed to finish the third with one basket.
"We've had stretches this season where we didn't score any points, but this is the first time I felt like we hung our heads," Henry coach Todd Gilley said. "I don't think we executed well, and we didn't respond."
Kelsey Mings led Henry in scoring with nine points, while Jean-Anne Moore scored six, Jessica Booher scored five, Jenny Kozora scored two, and Kelley Everidge and Tyler Sadler knocked down one free throw each.
After the loss, the Ladycats dropped to 2-5, including 1-2 against district opponents. They were an even 2-2 after four games but dropped their final three.
Henry will be back in action Dec. 26-28, traveling to the Wolverine Classic, hosted by Western Hills. Henry will play Anderson County Dec. 26 at 4 p.m., Western Hills Dec. 27 at 4 p.m. and Whitefield Academy Dec. 28 at 2 p.m.
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