George Rogers Clark is cashing in once again.
The Lady Cards are headed back to BB&T Arena after knocking off Scott, 68-56 in the 10th Region Championship, Saturday night at The Fieldhouse.
“Glad for these girls. I’ve got a great group of kids. They work hard, they’re great students and high character, kudos and hats off to my team,” Lady Cards coach Robbie Graham said. “Our coaches work hard every day, they got to put up with me, the kids have to put up with me, great group of kids. It’s been a fun year.”
GRC did it with balanced scoring once again as Hayley Harrison provided the spark early and others followed in the near wire-to-wire victory. They stayed hot from the outside, knocking down 7-of-13 3-point attempts in the contest.
Harrison scored the Lady Cards’ first 13 of 16 points in the opening quarter as they led 16-11 after one. The junior guard was coming off a night in which she scored three in the semifinal win over Campbell County.
“You just play the role your team needs to play every night. Last night was a little more defense and tonight it was offense,” Harrison said. “I was feeling it tonight.”
The Lady Cards started to separate in the second, closing the first half out on a 11-2 run to take a 34-19 lead into halftime despite Harrison in early foul trouble with two fouls. Kennedy Igo and Shemaya Behanan picked up the slack as they combined for 13 of the Lady Cards’ 18 points in the frame.
“Hayley came out on fire and set the tempo and then everybody else started playing. We all played well and competed and played hard,” Graham said. “We closed out quarters in the first half really well.”
Scott made a run to start the second half as they held GRC without a point for the first 4:24 of the third, trimming a 15-point deficit down to nine.
Maleaha Bell ended the scoreless drought with a free throw and the lead was back to double-digits at 35-25. Scott would remain in striking distance, getting as close as seven points before a Harrison runner put things at 41-32 Lady Cards to end the third.
“We make that run, expend all that energy making that big run and we kind of went flat again after that. We didn’t match up on assignments very well to start the game with Harrison. That was kind of frustrating, missing the shots that we had and then not getting the defensive assignments that we were working on,” Lady Eagles coach Rhonda Klette said.
Then the start of the fourth pretty much summed up Scott’s evening. Anna Clephane had a 3-pointer go all the way down and out while Jasmine Flowers swished home a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to make it a 12-point game.
“We shot it well here all week, just not tonight,” Klette said.
Sofia Allen answered with the Lady Eagles first triple of the evening as the two would trade buckets the next couple minutes, but it was too much Lady Cards in the final five minutes.
Leading 48-39, Harrison knocked a triple to extend the lead back out to 12 and Scott would get no closer than 10 the rest of the way, giving the Lady Cards back-to-back 10th Region titles and their 12th in school history, tied for the most in the 10th with Montgomery County.
“This is fun. In the state of Kentucky, it doesn’t get any better than this. People ask me if it gets old, never, never. It never gets old to me. It’s fun to come in The Fieldhouse and win here, what better venue to play basketball, great place,” Graham said.
The Lady Cards got it done in all areas, shooting 53 percent from the field, 53 percent from three, outscoring the Lady Eagles 21-6 from beyond the arc and outrebounding Scott 34-22 in the contest.
Harrison led the attack with 20 points, followed by Shemaya Behanan with 17 points and eight rebounds. Kennedy Igo and Maleaha Bell added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
GRC will now shift their focus to the Sweet 16, as they’ll open up with Harlan County, Wednesday night at 8 p.m.
“Tomorrow I’m going to be Dad and watch my daughter play for the Mid-South Conference Championship,” Graham said of his daughter Lexxus, who plays for Campbellsville. “Monday, we’ll practice and then I’ll be Dad again and come watch my son (Jordan) on the GRC boys’ team. And hopefully again on Tuesday. We’ll work hard, take tomorrow off and get after it on Monday and Tuesday practice-wise. We’ll chase film, hopefully have a scouting report ready and hopefully go from there. We’ve been there, we know what to expect and how to handle it.”
Scott had a double-overtime game in the semifinal the night before in the win over Mason County, had to turn around less than 24 hours later and may have felt the ill effects from it, shooting 22 percent from the 3-point line.
“A little bit. We had the shots that we wanted, they just didn’t fall. You kind of get behind and playing in that position is a little bit more difficult. Some of the emotion of last night, the adrenaline flowing, we just didn’t finish the opportunities that we had,” Klette said.
Scott ends their season at 19-15 and will miss what’s been the centerpiece of their program over the last couple years in Anna Clephane.
“She’s been the leader of a really, really young team. She really stepped up in that role and taking the kids under her wing. She’s been the face of our program for the last five years,” Klette said.
Clephane ended with 27 points on the night and scored over 2,500 points in her Lady Eagles career.
The future is still promising for Scott as they return everyone but Clephane, including Summer Secrist, who made great strides in her junior season.
“We have a great foundation. Summer had a great second half of the season, found her own way and developed into a tremendous player,” Klette said.
Secrist ended with 20 points and grabbed a team high six rebounds.