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GREENSBURG— These slow starts are quickly getting on the nerves of Elizabethtown coach Tim Mudd.
For the second straight postseason tournament game Thursday night, Mudd’s Lady Panthers had a hard time getting in a groove. But much like it did in Saturday’s win over North Hardin in the 17th District Tournament final, a sluggish beginning mattered little.
The Lady Panthers crushed the 18th District runner-up Caverna Lady Colonels after halftime, 65-37 in the third quarterfinal of the Girls’ 5th Region Basketball Tournament at Green County.
“We just need to get into the game and see how the other team is playing before we adjust,” said Elizabethtown senior forward Deanna Downs, who scored all but one of her points in a 5-minute stretch in the second quarter.
Elizabethtown (23-7) has been able to adjust in the playoffs, beating North Hardin by six after trailing early in the third quarter. The Lady Panthers faced a pair of four-point deficits in the second quarter and trailed 27-26 with 3:13 left in the first half after Caverna freshman guard Madison Faulkner buried her fourth 3-pointer.
“I don’t think it has been as much about my halftime speeches as it is our jitters and just needing to get settled down,” Mudd said of his young team, which has five sophomores or freshmen in the top six of the rotation. “I’m just glad we haven’t gotten ourselves in too big of a hole to dig out of.”
After digging themselves a hole, the Lady Panthers cooled her off while Downs got warmed up.
Playing with two offensive fouls on freshman forward Erin Boley, Downs scored six points in the final 2 minutes of the second quarter as Elizabethtown closed the first half on a 10-0 run.
“It’s good for us as starters to know we have people behind us who can play,” said Boley, who finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and two assists. “We have confidence they can come in and play for us.”
Elizabethtown’s bench, led by Downs’ nine points and six rebounds, combined for 24 points, 15 rebounds, six assists and six steals.
“I really needed to go in there and just rebound, because we weren’t rebounding at the time,” Downs said. “I really wasn’t expecting to go in and score like that, but I knew I’d better rebound.”
Mudd said Downs played her role perfectly and helped energize her team when it was struggling.
“She came in and gave us a huge lift,” Mudd said. “She came in and made the most of her opportunity. She scored the basketball and didn’t try to do more than she could do.”
Finally owning a comfortable lead, Elizabethtown ratcheted up its defense in the second half. The Lady Panthers held Caverna to just 10 points after halftime, forcing 10 turnovers and limiting the Lady Colonels to just 20 percent shooting from the field. Faulkner scored all of her team-high 17 points in the first 13 minutes, going scoreless the final 19.
“She hurt us a lot,” said Elizabethtown sophomore guard Darien Huff, who had 10 points, a game-high six steals, four rebounds and three assists. “We had another slow start and we weren’t playing defense. Once we picked up our defense, we got going.”
And away they went.
Huff and sophomore guard Livie Bowling had two steals each, while senior reserve forward Madison Lark added another in the final 3:03 of the third quarter as Elizabethtown closed the period on a 12-4 run.
Elizabethtown forced three more turnovers as it held Caverna scoreless the first 7:29 of the fourth quarter.
After two slow starts, the Lady Panthers know they can ill afford another as they take on the top-ranked Marion County Lady Knights at 6 p.m. Sunday in the region tournament semifinals.
“We have to start playing in the first half like we have been in the second half,” Boley said. “That has to happen in our next game. We can’t wait any longer.”
Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at (270) 505-1758 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ELIZABETHTOWN65, CAVERNA 37
Caverna 13 14 7 3—37
Elizabethtown 16 2019 10—65
Team FG FT R TP
Caverna 15-47 2-5 29 37
Elizabethtown 27-58 5-15 41 65
Player FG FT R TP
Waggoner 5-7 1-2 2 12
Kirk 0-0 0-0 3 0
Faulkner 6-23 1-1 9 17
Kingrey 3-7 0-2 9 6
Perry 0-5 0-0 2 0
Edwards 0-0 0-0 1 0
Davis 1-5 0-0 1 2
Player FG FT R TP
L. Bowling 1-3 0-0 4 2
Huff 4-8 1-2 4 10
A. Bowling 0-4 0-0 3 0
Boley 9-15 0-0 8 19
Cleaver 3-10 4-7 6 10
Duwe 2-2 0-0 0 4
Downs 4-7 1-2 6 9
Warden 2-3 0-0 1 5
Lark 0-1 2-2 2 2
Powell 2-4 0-2 4 4
Coffman 0-0 0-0 1 0
Pfeiffer 0-1 0-0 1 0
3-POINTERS: CAVERNA (5-15): Madison Faulkner 4-9, Madison Perry 0-3, Andrea Davis 0-2, Ciara Waggoner 1-1. ELIZABETHTOWN (3-15): Darien Huff 1-4, Anna Bowling 0-4, Erin Boley 1-3, Rachel Warden 1-2, Deanna Downs 0-1, Madison Lark 0-1.
ASSISTS: CAVERNA (10): Ciara Waggoner 5, Madison Faulkner 3, Andrea Davis 1, Giuliana Petrucci. ELIZABETHTOWN (18): Livie Bowling 4, Darien Huff 3, Erin Boley 2, Anna Bowling 2, Madison Lark 2, Rachel Warden 2, Reauna Cleaver 1, Deanna Downs 1, Alexis Powell 1.