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Following Tuesday night’s 54-11 win over the fourth-seeded Hart County Raiders in the Girls’ 18th District Basketball Tournament’s early semifinal in Munfordville, standout LaRue County junior wing Ivy Brown said her top-seeded Lady Hawks wouldn’t breathe easier until they were cutting down the nets inside of the Hart County High School gym following Friday night’s championship game.
It wasn’t a sentiment just of her own thought process.
“That’s the approach we’re all taking,” LaRue County coach Travis Wootton said Wednesday. “We want to go (to the region tournament) and we want to go in as a winner.”
A win would give the Lady Hawks their second district title in three years, a feat they haven’t achieved in more than a decade. Plus, it would help the Lady Hawks in Sunday morning’s 5th Region Tournament draw meeting at tournament host Green County. Should seeds hold true to form this week in other districts, LaRue County would avoid Elizabethtown (17th District No. 1 seed) and Nelson County (19th District top seed).
Of course, that might not mean much.
“It’s kind of funny because they’re favored to win and we’re 2-0 against the favored winners,” Wootton said, noting that first-round matchups with North Hardin (17th District No. 2 seed) and Adair County (20th District No. 2 seed) wouldn’t exactly be easy. “Yet those two are favored to come in as the runner-up, and we’re 0-2 against those expected to be runner-ups. So it’s kind of strange how it has worked out so far.”
Friday’s matchup might seem kind of strange, too, as the third-seeded Caverna Lady Colonels (16-13) rolled to a 67-40 win over second-seeded Green County (17-14) in Wednesday night’s late semifinal. The Lady Dragons won both of the regular-season meetings, including a 20-point rout in the most recent game.
LaRue County swept Green County in the regular season by an average margin of nine points. The Lady Hawks had an easier time with Caverna, winning the first meeting by 38 points and the second by five.
“It’s the district title,” Wootton said. “There’s no letdown whatsoever. No matter who we were playing, we were going out to win.”
Wootton’s squad had few letdowns Tuesday, forcing Hart County into 1-of-31 shooting and 26 turnovers. It was a season best for points allowed for the Lady Hawks and a season worst for points scored for Hart County.
“I was pleased with our defensive intensity the whole game,” said Wootton, whose team has kept its last three opponents from scoring 50 points. “We were very locked in what we were doing.”
Brown and fellow star Alexis Brewer combined for 40 points, 21 rebounds and seven steals Tuesday. A contribution which might have gone unnoticed, however, was nine rebounds and two blocks from senior forward Alisha Durbin.
“Any time you have nine rebounds and three or four blocks, you’re making a huge impact defensively,” Wootton said. “She’s blocked probably about 50 or 60 shots this year and Alisha just changes so many shots.”
While LaRue County is led by Brewer and Brown, Caverna counters with its high-scoring guard trio of freshman Madison Faulkner (15.7 points per game entering Wednesday), sophomore Ciara Waggoner (14.2) and senior Reagan Kingrey (14.1). Kingrey (team-high 14 points), Faulkner (13) and Waggoner (nine) combined for 36 points in their team’s last meeting with LaRue County.
“Madison is their key from the perimeter. We have to contain her and not let her have open looks,” Wootton said. “Reagan has improved and she’s a good solid player inside. And (Waggoner) is really quick with the ball and is good at driving to the basket. We have to keep her from driving into the paint.”
Wootton would also like to see his team keep up its rebounding prowess. On Tuesday, every starter grabbed a rebound in the first 5 minutes and five Lady Hawks in all had at least six rebounds as LaRue County owned the glass against Hart County, 51-26.
“We have to pound the glass,” Wootton said. “That’s kind of our thing this year is pounding the boards.”
Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at (270) 505-1758 or firstname.lastname@example.org.