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OWENSBORO— Meade County senior Maya Luney can’t help but think her career would still be going if the Lady Waves had just a little more time Monday night in the Girls’ 3rd Region Basketball Tournament championship game.
After falling behind by 16 in the third quarter against Owensboro Catholic, the Lady Waves rallied and cut their deficit to one with just over 2 minutes remaining at the Owensboro Sportscenter.
But time ran out on Meade County.
Senior Becca Greenwell and junior Kaylyn Pearson combined to hit six free throws in the final 25 seconds as the Lady Aces held on, 58-51 to advance to the KHSAA Girls’ Sweet 16.
“If we had 30 more seconds, we’d be cutting those nets down,” Luney said. “If we just had a little more time, we’d be out there celebrating a win.”
Instead, the Lady Waves are faced with a long offseason after coming up just short in their quest to make it to State.
Meade County believed it had the pieces in place to make it to State, but those plans are on hold for now.
“We just needed another minute or so and one or two timeouts, and we could have won the game,” said longtime Meade County coach Josh Hurt.
The Lady Waves had a chance after coming back from a 32-16 deficit.
Junior guard Raley Johnson – who scored a game-high 29 points – and sophomore guard Addi Lynch combined for five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to help the Lady Waves pull within 48-47 with 2:42 remaining and get their fans back in the game.
It was the jolt the Lady Waves (23-10) needed to get them going after missing their first opening six shots from the field and finishing 5-of-17 overall in the first half.
“We were just excited,” said sophomore guard Morgan Turner. “We kind of shut down there for a bit, and the fact that we were able to come out of it and come back with all those 3s was really amazing.”
Having coached most of his players since they were in middle school, Hurt figured his team was due for a stretch like that.
“I’ve seen these kids do this all their lives,” he said. “They go through stretches where they just can’t miss. When we get hot we’re fun to watch. When we had it cut to one, I felt confident that we were going to win the game.”
The Lady Waves, however, could never take the lead or draw even with the Lady Aces (24-7), even after forcing consecutive turnovers by Greenwell after the Duke signee hit two free throws with 2:30 remaining.
Johnson hit a short jumper with 1:18 remaining to make it 50-49, but sophomore Destiny Howard converted an old-fashioned three-point play 14 seconds later that seemed to knock the wind out of Meade County.
The Lady Waves wouldn’t score again until Johnson hit a bucket in the lane with less than 10 seconds to go.
“We rallied and our fans were rocking,” Hurt said. “It hurts right now and it’s not fun to lose, especially when you’re this close to your dream. But when they go back in a day or two, they’re going to look back and realize this was the most fun part of their lives. The crowd was roaring and into the game and we were battling and scrapping for the ball. We were playing very good basketball. It’s just unfortunate that we ran out of time.”
Time might not have been their best friend Monday night, but Turner said her team’s future is definitely bright considering the Lady Waves graduate only three players in Alexis Greco, Luney and Megan Aebersold.
“Alexis and Maya and Megan have meant so much to this program,” Hurt said. “We’re going to miss those three so much. They did everything they were supposed to and I’m so proud of what they accomplished as seniors.”
The Lady Waves could also be without sophomore guard Kelsey Sutton, who tore the ACL in her left knee in Saturday’s semifinal win over Ohio County. Hurt said a timeframe for her return is uncertain.
Even then, Turner and her teammates can’t wait to see what the future holds.
“Our future is so bright,” said Turner, who was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Johnson and Lynch. “You’ll see us back here next year. We’ll win the thing next year; that’s a promise. I’m upset we didn’t win this year, but we gave it all we had. That’s all we could do.”
After watching his team go toe-to-toe with Owensboro Catholic and with the nucleus of his team returning, Hurt believes his team can make a run for the region crown next season.
“We hope so, but nothing’s a given,” he said. “There will be five or six good teams in the region next year, and we hope to be one of them. In any event, we feel like we’ll have a strong team. When you look at next year, we’re going to have an opportunity. And that’s all it is right now. But we’re looking forward to it.”
OWENSBOROCATHOLIC 58, MEADE COUNTY 51
Meade County 10 4 14 23—51
O’boro Cath. 10 12 17 19—58
Raley Johnson 29, Morgan Turner 9, Addi Lynch 9, Maya Luney 4. FG: 17-39. FT: 8-8. 3-pointers: 9-22 (Johnson 5-11, Lynch 3-4, Turner 1-4, Katie Wilson 0-2, Katelyn Cucino 0-1). Rebs: 15 (Turner 5). Assists: 10 (Cucino 5, Lynch 2, Johnson 2). Steals: 5 (Cucino 4, Wilson 1).
Becca Greenwell 17, Destiny Howard 16, Kaylyn Pearson 16, Mikayla Berry 5, Leah Greathouse 4. FG: 19-45. FT: 19-22. 3-pointers: 1-11 (Berry 1-5, Greathouse 0-3, Greenwell 0-2, Pearson 0-1). Rebs: 25 (Greenwell 13, Pearson 6). Assists: 7 (Greenwell 3, Berry 2). Steals: 11 (Greenwell 6).
Josh Claywell can be reached at (270) 505-1752 or firstname.lastname@example.org