Ladycats win county showdown

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Eminence girls improved, but Henry County’s hot shooting too much

By Tommie Kendall

Compared to the first time the Eminence girls’ team played cross-county rival Henry County 12 weeks ago, Henry’s head coach Todd Gilley said Eminence has a “much improved basketball team.”

But Gilley’s squad was on fire last Friday night as the Ladycats knocked down 11 3-pointers and cruised in for a 71-26 victory. The Cats, who also beat Eminence 67-13 in the season opener on Dec. 3, has now won 11 straight games over Eminence dating back to January 2005.

On Friday inside Warriors Gymnasium, Ally Vaughn and Jessica Booher led the hot shooting display with three 3-pointers apiece. MacKenzie Clifford added two more, while Kelsey Mings, Kelley Evridge and Macie New sunk one each. It was enough for Henry to earn its seventh consecutive win and improve to 15-9 overall; Eminence dropped to 2-26.

“I thought Eminence played well. Actually, I thought both teams played well,” Gilley said. “Eminence is definitely a much improved basketball team. They were knocking down shots, diving out of bounds and getting to loose balls. We thought they came ready to play and were much better than the first time we played them.”

Henry went on a spurt late in the first quarter to break open the score and go in front 24-11 after the first eight minutes. Thanks to most likely the best shooting display from the Ladycats this season, Henry was ahead 42-18 at the half.

“The first time we played them, they didn’t hit near that many shots,” Eminence coach Carter Martin said. “Whenever the ball is falling like that, there’s not much you can do.”

Vaughn finished with 21 points to lead all scorers, while Mings scored 11, Booher scored nine, Brittany Crawford scored eight, Clifford scored six, Evridge and New scored five each, Taylor Clark scored four, and Kelsey Thomas scored two.

For Eminence, Samantha Congleton scored 11, Rachel Raisor scored six, PJ Thomason scored five, Meisha Mason scored three and Emily Bryant scored one. The closest quarter was the fourth when Eminence was outscored just 10-5.

“I thought we were just very focused as a ball team,” Gilley said afterwards. “We did all the little things, were focused the entire time and played one of our better games because of it.”

Henry County also beat Waggener, 52-42, two days earlier on Wednesday. Henry got off to a sluggish start, playing from behind for much of the first three quarters, but eventually went ahead and won by 10 points. Henry outscored Waggener 17-9 in the third-quarter stretch and 16-11 in the fourth.

Booher had 19 points and Clark added 14 to help spark the Ladycats down the stretch.

“We had been off school for a few days (because of the snow) and I think our players just took Waggener too lightly at first,” Gilley explained. “The thing I like about our team is we have different players that can step up on different nights. Booher and Clark both stepped up this time. It makes us very tough to guard because you just don’t know which players are going to play well for us.”

With the Waggener and Eminence wins, Henry has now won seven straight games for the first time since the 2004 season. Henry has not lost a game since Jan. 23.

Meanwhile, Eminence lost to Beth Haven, 50-44, last Thursday, Henry on Friday and Louisville Collegiate, 38-35, on Saturday in a three-day stretch. The Lady Warriors are 2-26 overall with earlier wins over St. Francis and Covington Latin.

Against Collegiate in the regular season finale, Eminence was behind 13-8 after the first quarter and 22-20 at the half. Martin said his squad was ahead once in the final quarter but had crucial turnovers that cost them the game.

“I didn’t think we did too bad, we just have to find ways to fix those mistakes,” Martin said.

The Lady Warriors were down by seven points with just one minute left in regulation before coming up with two big steals and baskets. They then got the ball back, but missed an attempt in the closing seconds to lose by three points.

Raisor finished with 12 points, Thomason had 11 and Congleton added six. Thomason had three 3-point baskets.

After the two county high schools closed out the regular season, they open the postseason this week. Henry played Owen County on Tuesday (at Gallatin County High School) in the 31st District tournament, while Eminence played Anderson County on the same night (at Shelby County High School) in the 30th District tournament.

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