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Erin Boley kept hitting shots to hit a big personal milestone Saturday night. The freshman forward’s team hit another.
Boley scored a team-high 22 points to surpass the 1,000-point mark of her Elizabethtown career and help the top-seeded Lady Panthers overcome a monster performance by North Hardin senior forward Chanel Roberts in a 52-46 win over the second-seeded Lady Trojans in the championship game of the Girls’ 17th District Basketball Tournament at Ron Bevars Gymnasium.
Boley entered with 995 points in three varsity seasons with the Lady Panthers. She reached 1,000 when she made a basket in the lane while being fouled with 7:18 left in the first half to pull her team within 14-13. Boley finished 7-of-12 from the field and 7-of-9 from the foul line.
“We knew what Boley was capable of,” said North Hardin coach Chris Corder. “She hit some tough shots and she always does. I think Morgan Barrick and Brianna Edmunds did as good of a job guarding her as anyone else has, but she’s just so strong and she made some tough, tough shots.”
Two of those shots came in Elizabethtown’s game-changing run to open the second half. In the first 5:23 of the third quarter, the Lady Panthers scored as many points as they did in the first half – 17.
The first of Boley’s shots during the run came on a second-chance basket that gave Elizabethtown the lead for good at 21-20 just 44 seconds into the third quarter, while the second shot was another second-chance basket. Senior guard Anna Bowling missed a 3-pointer to open the possession, but sophomore forward Reauna Cleaver knocked the rebound away from North Hardin.
Elizabethtown freshman Rachel Warden came up with the ball and found Boley at the top of the key. Boley left her shooting hand up as the ball bounced around the rim before falling in to give her team a 29-24 lead with 3:44 left in the third.
“When someone’s hot like that, we all play better,” said Elizabethtown sophomore guard Darien Huff, who got hot late to help Elizabethtown hold North Hardin at bay. “Erin did an amazing job and she just helps us in so many ways.”
Boley’s rattle-in 3 started a streak of three straight scoring possessions for Elizabethtown coming off assists from Warden. Warden found junior reserve guard Kinsey Mudd for an open 3 on the next trip down the floor before hitting Cleaver for a basket in the lane that gave Elizabethtown its largest lead at 34-24 with 2:37 left in the third.
“We needed to push the ball and play to our strength, which is in transition,” Warden said of her team’s strong third-quarter start. “We needed to calm down and take our shots and I think we did a lot better of executing in the second half.”
Which was fortunate for the Lady Panthers, because outside of Boley, they didn’t do a very good job of executing in the first half. Huff’s 3-pointer in the right corner off an assist from sophomore guard Livie Bowling gave Elizabethtown a 7-6 lead with 4:14 left in the first quarter, but Boley was the only Lady Panther to score in the final 12:13 of the first half.
Elizabethtown’s sluggish offense allowed North Hardin to hang around. The Lady Trojans’ biggest first-half deficit was four points and a pair of free throws from Roberts gave North Hardin the lead for the final 5:16 of the second period as the Lady Trojans went into the half up 20-17.
“To be honest with you, it was fool’s gold,” said Corder, whose team was the district tournament runner-up to Elizabethtown for the seventh straight year. “We should have been up by 10 or 12, but we missed layups and they missed free throws that they normally make.”
Despite not scoring the opening 7 minutes, Roberts outscored the rest of her team by eight and had nearly half (13) of her team’s 29 rebounds.
“We needed to focus on Roberts and we lost her a couple of times because we were unfocused defensively,” Warden said of Roberts, the reigning News-Enterprise Player of the Year. “She’s so athletic and has so many things to her game that she’s hard to stop.”
But it was Elizabethtown which was hard to stop down the stretch. Cleaver scored all but two of her points in a 7-minute span in the second half and Huff scored six of her nine points in the final 71 seconds.
Elizabethtown won its eighth consecutive district tournament title, breaking a tie with the North Hardin boys for the most consecutive district tournament crowns.
“This is pretty awesome and we had to work hard for it,” said Huff, who was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Warden, Cleaver and Boley. “We had to push each other and work together as a team.”
Elizabethtown also got to win its record-setting title in its home uniforms, although the Lady Panthers were technically supposed to be the visitor.
While he was pleased with his team’s success, Elizabethtown coach Tim Mudd couldn’t help but feel foolish for putting North Hardin in a bind. The Lady Trojans could have forced Elizabethtown to wear its correct uniforms, but changed on the fly.
“They didn’t have to do that,” he said. “I want to publically apologize, because that was my mistake. So we really appreciate the gesture they graciously made. They really didn’t have to do that, but they did.”
Corder, meanwhile, appreciates the fact that the loss didn’t end the Lady Trojans’ season.
Both teams advance to this week’s 5th Region Tournament at Green County and will find out their quarterfinal opponents this morning during the draw in Greensburg. Elizabethtown (22-7) could draw 18th District runner-up Caverna (15-14), 19th District runner-up Washington County (16-13) or 20th District runner-up Adair County (24-8). North Hardin (24-7) could draw 18th District champion LaRue County(25-5), 19th District champion Nelson County (26-5) or 20th District champion Marion County (32-0), the state’s only undefeated team.
“That’s the good thing about being in the district championship,” Corder said. “We’ll find out who we’ll play, we’ll come up with a game plan and we’ll go out there and play again.”
Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at (270) 505-1758 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ELIZABETHTOWN52, NORTH HARDIN 46
North Hardin 12 810 16—46
Elizabethtown 10 721 14—52
Team FG FT R TP
North Hardin 15-40 13-17 27 46
Elizabethtown 18-41 13-23 28 52
Player FG FT R TP
Taft 2-8 0-0 1 6
Stanford 2-7 5-9 1 9
Roberts 10-19 6-6 13 27
Barrick 0-0 0-0 1 0
Edmunds 1-2 0-0 1 2
Jones 0-3 2-2 1 2
Pass 0-1 0-0 0 0
Player FG FT R TP
L. Bowling 1-5 0-2 1 2
Huff 2-4 4-4 5 9
A. Bowling 1-5 0-0 1 2
Boley 7-12 7-9 4 22
Cleaver 6-11 1-3 9 13
Warden 0-0 1-5 4 1
Mudd 1-1 0-0 0 3
Powell 0-3 0-0 2 0
3-POINTERS: NORTH HARDIN (3-13): Domeneque Taft 2-7, Chanel Roberts 1-4, Kiera Jones 0-1, Zakayshia Pass 0-1. ELIZABETHTOWN (3-8): Darien Huff 1-3, Anna Bowling 0-2, Kinsey Mudd 1-1, Erin Boley 1-1, Livie Bowling 0-1. ASSISTS: NORTH HARDIN (3): Kiera Jones 2, Domeneque Taft 1. ELIZABETHTOWN (12): Livie Bowling 7, Rachel Warden 2, Darien Huff 1, Erin Boley 1, Alexis Powell 1.
GIRLS’ 17TH DISTRICT ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
ELIZABETHTOWN: Erin Boley, Reauna Cleaver, Darien Huff and Rachel Warden.
NORTH HARDIN: Chanel Roberts, Tamiah Stanford and Domeneque Taft.
CENTRAL HARDIN: Aislynn Barnes and Mariah Helton.
JOHN HARDIN: Tyra Jackson at Michelle Montgomery.
FORTKNOX: Brenna Stephenson.