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Making their season debut at home Tuesday night, the Elizabethtown Lady Panthers started sluggish and ended the same way against the upset-minded Meade County Lady Waves. But in between, Erin Boley, Reauna Cleaver and the young Lady Panthers showed flashes of brilliance.
Boley overcame a slow night shooting to score a team-high 19 points, while Cleaver added a double-double as the Lady Panthers held off the Lady Waves, 55-49.
“We just need to find a way to put it all together,” said Boley, who scored 10 of her team’s first 20 points. “Once we play together as a team for all four quarters, that will take us places.”
Boley missed eight of her first nine shots, but her baseline drive with 6:25 left in the first half gave Elizabethtown its first lead at 10-8. Boley’s putback of a Darien Huff 3-pointer with 3:06 left in the second quarter gave the Lady Panthers the lead for good at 16-15.
“There was no point in stressing over it,” Boley said of her shooting. “I knew I had to keep shooting and things would eventually fall.”
Things quickly fell into place for the Lady Panthers, who stretched their lead to 42-27 with 3:13 left in the third quarter after Boley hit a pair of technical foul free throws.
But led by a high-scoring duo of its own, Meade County refused to let this game turn into a rout as many of the rivals’ recent meetings have gone. Junior guard Raley Johnson and sophomore wing Morgan Turner combined for eight points in the Lady Waves’ 10-2 run to close the third quarter and pull Meade County within 44-37.
“We were close and we tried,” said Johnson, who scored a game-high 27 points and reached the 1,000-point mark for her career. “We were prepared and we were focused. We knew what we had to do and I felt like we executed everything that we needed to do.”
Elizabethtown was able to stretch its lead back to 12 after Cleaver hit a pair of free throws with 6:12 left in the game before the Lady Waves rallied again.
“Even though we’re young, we are able to show our talent,” said Cleaver, who had 18 points and a game-high 10 rebounds to go along with two blocks. “But we lost it there at the end. We got kind of crazy with the ball. They put the pressure on us and we have to work on how we handle pressure like that because we struggled with it.”
The last of Raley’s five 3-pointers cut Elizabethtown’s lead to 49-40 with 5:15 left and a pull-up 3-pointer from Turner – her only made shot from the arc – with 47 seconds left got Meade County within 52-49.
“I think this still showed how hard we worked before the season and how hard we worked tonight and how well we prepared,” said Turner, who had 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. “This could set a good tone for us even though we didn’t win.”
Meade County had two possessions to tie in the final minute, but turned the ball over both times, which allowed Huff to make 1-of-2 free throws with 12.6 seconds left for a critical two-possession lead and Boley to bury two more free throws with 4.2 seconds left to all but seal it.
“The game went tonight about how I thought it was going to go,” said veteran Elizabethtown coach Tim Mudd. “I think Meade County is a very quality opponent for this time of year. It was a great test for both of us and we were fortunate to win.
“Meade County came here to win and you can’t take winning for granted because it’s not that easy,” he added. “Meade County’s got a good team and they’re going to win a lot of games.”
ELIZABETHTOWN55, MEADE COUNTY 49
Meade County 8 13 16 12—49
Elizabethtown 6 22 16 11—55
Raley Johnson 27, Morgan Turner 14, Megan Aebersold 4, Katelyn Cucino 2, Maya Luney 2. FG: 15-33. FT: 13-18. 3-pointers: 6-13 (Johnson 5-7, Turner 1-6). Rebs: 22 (Addi Lynch 7, Turner 7). Assists: 5 (Cucino 3). Steals: 5.
Erin Boley 19, Reauna Cleaver 18, Kinsey Mudd 9, Darien Huff 3, Rachel Warden 3, Livie Bowling 2, Anna Bowling 1. FG: 20-53. FT: 10-17. 3-pointers: 5-17 (Mudd 3-5, Boley 1-4, Warden 1-3, A. Bowling 0-2, L. Bowling 0-2, Huff 0-1). Rebs: 30 (Cleaver 10, Boley 6). Assists: 20 (L. Bowling 4, Boley 3, A. Bowling 3). Steals: 7 (L. Bowling 2).
UP NEXT: Elizabethtown hosts John Hardin at 6 p.m. Friday. Meade County hosts LaRue County at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Nathaniel Bryan can be reached at (270) 505-1758 or email@example.com.