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Lady Cats drop Mustangs, Bears

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By Greg Woods

Now that their bout with the flu has passed, the Henry County Lady Cats are back to full strength.

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That full strength was on display when the Lady Cats hosted the North Oldham Lady Mustangs last week, coming out on top with an 8-point victory.

The Lady Cats trailed at the end of the first quarter 13-10 mainly because of rebounding breakdowns according to Coach Todd Gilley. “We gave up three put backs in the first quarter because we didn’t block out,” he said. “We would play good defense and then failed to block out. It was very frustrating for the girls.”

The Lady Cats adjusted defensively in the second period and solved two problems at once. “On a good note our kids adjusted to their point guard (Cat Fiorito) who was good at penetrating and we started getting help from the right positions, especially in the fourth quarter, and she couldn’t get to the hole,” Gilley said.

The Cats also secured the Lady Mustangs missed shots by being in position to block out. “We didn’t give up a single offensive rebound down the stretch,” he added.

The Lady Cats trimmed the margin to two points by halftime and took the lead in the third quarter.

The Cats never relinquished the lead and at one point early in the fourth pushed it to 7 points. At that point the Cats gave up a couple of layups off turnovers and the Lady Mustangs cut it to 3 points with about two minutes remaining. Then freshman guard Cheyenne Clark — who led the Cats with 21 points — hit an 18-footer to increase the lead back to 5 points.

On the ensuing possession North Oldham missed a shot and the Cats rebounded. Clark was fouled and went to the line to increase the margin back to 7 points.

From there the Lady Mustangs were forced into fouling and the Lady Cats made enough free throws down the stretch to make the final 8-point margin.

The Lady Cats hit 11-of-17 free throws in the final period and 17-of-29 overall while the Lady Mustangs hit just 10-of-16.

 “We were aggressive taking the ball to the hole all night, especially Cheyenne and Kim Barmore,” Gilley said. “As a consequence, we got to the line a lot.

“Ashley Craigmyle didn’t score tonight, but she came off the bench and gave us a lot of energy. She was very aggressive rebounding and had a back tip that led to a steal and layup.

“I liked the demeanor of our team throughout the game. We were able to smile at our mistakes and have fun while working hard. North Oldham’s coach (Dan Pfaff) said that he thought we were just mentally and physically tougher than his team. That is a huge compliment to our girls.”

Grant County 49 Henry County 29

The Lady Cats followed up their win over North with a game against the much taller Grant County Lady Braves.

The Lady Braves had several players who were 6-feet or taller and used that height advantage to defeat the Cats.

Both teams played tough defense to open the game, causing each other to struggle finding the basket — Grant County got the first bucket with almost two minutes gone in the first period.

Barmore then scored inside to tie.

After Grant scored inside the offensive flow came to a standstill until Clark got a steal and lay up to tie the score with 55 seconds remaining in the half.

But the Lady Braves got a steal and layup of their own to retake the lead with 15.4 seconds remaining. They were fouled on the play and missed the free throw, but rebounded the miss and scored on a put back to take a four-point lead into the second period.

Craigmyle pulled the Cats to within 2 points to open the second period but then the Lady Braves went on a 10-0 run with a variety of inside baskets including another put back to make it 18-8.

The teams played evenly the remainder of the period and the Lady Braves went into the locker room up 23-11. A critical play came at the halftime buzzer when the Cats gave up a 3-pointer.

Henry County assistant Coach Bruce Blanton, who filled in for Gilley who was out with the flu, said the play was critical. “That was a key play. If we don’t give up that three at the buzzer, we might go into halftime down 9 instead of 12,” he said. “If we had not given up an offensive rebound that put them in position for that play, we might have been able to come down and cut the lead to 6 or 7 points going into halftime.”

The Lady Braves increased the lead to 16 points in the third quarter when they hit another buzzer-beating 3-pointer. The Cats’ 5 points in the quarter came on free throws by Clark.

In the fourth quarter the Cats found their scoring touch as they put up 13 points, but they could not contain the strong inside play of the Lady Braves who continued to get inside buckets and second-chance points. Grant County won the final period 17-13 for the 20-point victory.

“I think the keys to the game were their offensive rebounding and those two big 3-pointers to end the second and third quarters,” Blanton said. “I thought we executed our offense and half-court defense well, they just got too many offensive rebounds especially in the second and third quarters. They sometimes got four shots on one trip down the floor.”

Henry County 58 Spencer County 39

The Lady Cats returned to action again Saturday night without the services of their head coach, but this time the Lady Cats came away with one of their best performances of the season.

Clark led the Cats with 27 points in the 19-point victory.

 “We played awfully well over there,” Blanton said. “We were aggressive. We have had success over them the past couple of seasons and so we wanted to go out early and really attack them and plant the seed of building on the confidence of having beaten them in the past. We got all the 50-50 balls and rebounded well.”

The Cats jumped out to a 5-point lead by the end of the first quarter and built a 10-point lead by halftime.

They padded the lead to 21 points early in the third quarter before allowing the Lady Bears to go on an 8-0 run that cut the lead to 13 points.

“We had only one spot in the game when we lost our focus,” Blanton said. “We had two or three turnovers in a row that allowed hem to cut it to 13. We had a lot of younger girls in the game at that time. We put the starters back in and went to a diamond and one defense to shut down their best player. They didn’t score for the rest of the third quarter.”

The Cats finished the period up 43-26.

“Overall it was just a good performance offensively and defensively,” Blanton said “We put Cheyenne Clark in the high post against their 3-2 zone defense and we were able to get her a lot of good looks from 15 feet and in. I was impressed with the hunger and passion that the girls displayed. I hope we can build on this for the rest of the season and going into the district tournament.”