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Morgan Turner believes the Meade County Lady Waves have what it takes to be playing in Bowling Green in two weeks.
But if the Lady Waves want to make it to Western Kentucky University’s Diddle Arena – the site of the girls’ state tournament – they must first take care of business in the 3rd Region Basketball Tournament at the Owensboro Sportscenter.
Meade County’s road to State begins tonight at 7 as it faces the Owensboro Lady Devils in the tournament quarterfinals.
“I cry every time I think about it,” Turner said after practice Monday. “That’s how bad I want to get there. I can’t even put into words how badly we want it as a team and how badly I want it.”
Even though they beat Owensboro, 76-56 on Jan. 24, Coach Josh Hurt has cautioned his team about overlooking the Lady Devils (19-11). The Lady Waves (21-9) can’t expect the same outcome based on the previous meeting.
“They’re pretty much what you see is what you get,” he said. “They’re going to press, they’re going to trap immediately, they’ll play some man-to-man and they’ll go 1-2-2 in the half-court.”
During Monday’s practice, the Lady Waves worked on some of the same things they did in the first meeting – like finding open shooters on the perimeter from the high post.
Hurt said seniors Megan Aebersold and Maya Luney did a good job of finding their teammates, and he’s hopeful they can be successful with a similar attack again.
“We did a great job against their zone,” Hurt said. “We’re going to practice it, but we’re not going to change much. I’ll be interested to see what adjustments they make against us. But what we did really well last time was Megan and Maya stood in the high post and caught it and kicked it right back out, and we got a bunch of open 3s.”
The Lady Waves hit 11-of-19 3-pointers against the Lady Devils. They’ve hit seven or more 3s in seven of their last 10 games.
“We really started lighting it up in that game,” Hurt said. “We went through a three- or four-game stretch where we were really shooting it well, and that was the game that got us going.”
Defensively, Hurt said the Lady Waves need to keep tabs on Owensboro senior Sade Greer, who was averaging 19.5 points and 11.2 rebounds through 23 games.
Greer had just returned from an injury in the first meeting, but she still managed to score 21 points and grab seven rebounds.
“I think we’re going to help off her a lot because they have other players who can drive the lane,” Turner said. “We’ll try to squeeze her in the middle and take our chances with the other kids shooting the 3. They’re a dangerous team. But as long as we lock in on defense, we’ll be fine.”
How dangerous are the Lady Devils? Owensboro jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first quarter and led by 12 at one point. What Hurt liked was the composure and resolve his team showed to battle back.
The Lady Waves eventually took control in the third quarter and pulled away in the fourth. The win was part of a seven-game winning streak – Meade County’s longest of the season.
“That’s the nice thing about our team. We have enough offensive firepower that we can get hot in a hurry,” Hurt said. “Every night is different, and I’m sure they’ve made some changes. We just have to make sure to be ready for that. But it does speak to our talent that we can dig ourselves a hole like that on the road and come back to win.”
The Lady Waves have lost in the quarterfinals in their last four appearances in the region tournament and they’ve failed to win a game at the region tournament in seven of their last eight trips with the only exception coming in 2007. They haven‘t reached a region final since winning the 5th Region title in 1994.
But the Lady Waves believe this could be the year they change that trend, especially with how they’ve been playing lately.
“We’ve been passing the ball well and making the extra pass and getting a sense of where our teammates are on the floor,” Hurt said. “If we continue to do that, if we’re selfless with the ball like we have been, we’ll be OK.”
Josh Claywell can be reached at (270) 505-1752 or email@example.com.