Campbell County entered the 10th Region tournament Monday night wanting to make a statement.
The Lady Camels shot out to a 39-2 first quarter lead over Bracken County and never looked back in a 98-20 victory.
“We were hitting shots and able to apply our press. They had some trouble getting it down the court and just kind of took control early and never looked back,” Lady Camels coach Beau Menefee said.
The onslaught came early and often as Miss Kentucky Basketball finalist Taylor Clos knocked down five 3-pointers in the first quarter and scored 18 points.
Lexie Stapleton picked it up from there as she scored 18 of her game-high 26 points in the second quarter as Campbell County built a 71-12 lead by the break.
“That’s probably your regional champion right there,” Lady Bears coach Sam Elsbernd said. “I don’t mean that as disrespect to any teams remaining in the field because we haven’t played Clark County or haven’t played Scott, but that’s the best team we’ve played.”
The Lady Bears still kept fighting despite the large deficit and were able to play tight in the third, being outscored by Campbell 8-6 in the frame as the Lady Camels took a 79-18 lead into the fourth.
They’d just miss the century mark in the final minute of the game, settling for the 78-point victory. The 98 points were the most a Bracken County girls’ basketball team have ever allowed. The previous high was 91 in 2001.
“My advice to Coach Menefee after the game was to just enjoy it. I’ve been a part of something like that and they are good enough to possibly be in that position,” Elsbernd said, who was on the boys’ state champion Holmes coaching staff in 2009. “They are really good and don’t have a weakness. I thought our girls came out and played hard and competed, you just have to give all the credit in the world to Campbell County, they are really good.”
The game drew the ire of some as Campbell County kept the full court pressure on and starters in well into the second quarter with the big lead.
“It’s a real thin line that you’re walking there on what to do. We haven’t been playing many games lately and I definitely don’t want to take them out, we got to play our game. At the same time I’m not trying to run it up on anybody or try to embarrass anybody by any stretch of imagination,” Menefee said. “We’ve got a big game coming up Friday, we have to stay in shape and game ready. It’s a slippery slope of when to pull them and when not to but I tried to do it the best I can as far as that go. I’ve been on the other side of them, I used to coach at Bellevue years ago and took some big time thumpings. You just got to pick it up and move on.”
The win gets Campbell County to Friday’s highly anticipated semifinal against George Rogers Clark. After Stapleton’s 26, Clos added 25. Mackenzie Schwarber recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. All three played just the first half. The win improved them to 29-3 on the season.
The Lady Bears season comes to an end with a 10-22 record. They were led by Kinley Ruf’s six points, a senior who endured four coaches in her four years playing. She ended her career Monday unoficially with 1,027 points. The other lone senior on the team, Kaitlyn Wills notched two points.
“We’re going to miss Kinley and Kaitlyn, they gave us a lot, but that’s the way it works. I’ll miss them, miss having them around and miss seeing them everyday,” Elsbernd said.
Brighter days are ahead for the Lady Bears program. They return three starters in Kennedy Carl, Madison Goecke and Natalie Bell, and their first two players to come off the bench in Jaya Dawson and Aryah Myrick.
“It sounds crazy to say it when you get beat 98-20, but I’m kind of looking forward to next year because I think we can be really, really good. We return a lot of talent. Two seniors, four juniors and we made the regional tournament,” Elsbernd said. “I think our future is bright compared to where it was at nine months ago when our staff came together. I thought we’ve made a lot of progress. We have to continue to be positive with these girls in developing this program. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I do think we laid a foundation. It’s hard to consistently be competitive in the 10th Region, in the 39th District, in the 10th Region All “A”. So for this team to make the regional tournament, I think that’s a good building block going forward. I would have liked to play better in the district final and the first round of the region, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
BRACKEN COUNTY (20) – Ruf 6, Bell 4, Carl 4, Dawson 2, Wills 2, Myrick 2
CAMPBELL COUNTY (98) – Stapleton 26, Clos 25, Schwarber 11, Wells 9, Russell 7, Turner 6, Fleckenstein 6, Jackson 4, Koeninger 2, Miller 2
Field Goals: Bracken 5/35, Campbell 37/66
3-Pointers: Bracken 0/9, Campbell 9/25
Free Throws: Bracken 10/20, Campbell 15/23
Rebounds: Bracken 24 (Ruf 6), Campbell 48 (Schwarber 11)
Assists: Bracken 1 (Ruf), Campbell 23 (Schwarber 5)
Turnovers: Bracken 23, Campbell 5
Records: Bracken County 10-22, Campbell County 29-3