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By NATHANIEL BRYAN
ELIZABETHTOWN — With an early season match-up pitting a pair of future Eastern Kentucky Univer-sity teammates, Thursday night’s showdown at Charlie Rawlings Memorial Gym-nasium was supposed to be about Elizabethtown senior center Alex Jones and Lexington Henry Clay guard Brittany Coles, her fellow Lady Colonel signee.
Natalie Greenwell stole their show.
A sophomore point guard, Greenwell had a career-high 10 steals to go along with a game-best 21 points to lead the homestanding Lady Panthers to a surprisingly easy 68-36 win against the Lady Devils.
Last year, Greenwell played the backcourt along with Jenna Goblirsch, Elizabethtown’s all-time steals leader.
With Goblirsch now playing soccer for the University of Kentucky, Greenwell knew she had to improve defensively.
“She had a lot of our steals last year and since Jenna’s left, I had to step it up,” Greenwell said.
Greenwell stepped it up early for the Lady Panthers (2-0), who used several steals from Greenwell to reel off a 19-0 run in less than 5 minutes in the first quarter to start to pull away from the Lady Devils (1-1).
“She played really well defensively. She was anticipating their next pass and just going after steals,” said Jones, who was 1-of-8 Lady Panthers to record a steal.”
After Kayla Price hit a jumper for Henry Clay’s second and final field goal of the first quarter, Elizabethtown closed the opening period with a 7-0 run to open up a 29-4 lead.
“The first quarter was the difference,” said Henry Clay coach Scott Cromwell. “They took it to us and we never recovered.”
Jones wasn’t about to let the Lady Devils recover.
Henry Clay mounted a bit of momentum by going on a 16-6 run from the last minute of the second quarter to the first 3 minutes of the third quarter, but Jones scored on each of Elizabethtown’s next three trips down the floor.
She finished with 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field.
“I’m pretty pleased with the way I’ve been shooting so far. I’ve been working hard on finishing around the basket,” Jones said.
Elizabethtown scored the last seven points of the third quarter with the final three coming on a long pull-up 3-pointer by Greenwell at the buzzer. Through two games, Greenwell is 7-of-12 from the 3-point line.
Sophomore forward Adelaide Luckett had four steals and a game-high nine rebounds for Elizabethtown, while senior wing Terra Lucas had eight rebounds, five assists, four points and four steals and senior guard Dorian Downs had nine points, five assists and two steals. Senior forward Jasmine Deaderick added five points and five rebounds off the bench.
Henry Clay went 17-14 last year and like Elizabethtown, appeared in the state tournament. But the Lady Devils graduated six seniors, including four starters, from that squad, which left Coles adjusting to a mostly new lineup featuring several younger players.
Coles had eight points, but she was 2-of-13 from the field and had five of the Lady Devils’ 28 turnovers.
“I don’t think you got to see the real Coles tonight, because she really is a good player,” Mudd said. “We have more around Alex than they do around Coles. This is a team game, so it’s hard for one player to try to do everything themselves.”
Elizabethtown won the junior varsity game, 39-10.
LEXINGTON HENRY CLAY 36
Henry Clay 4 13 16 3—36
Elizabethtown 29 12 20 7—68
Henry Clay (1-1)
Candace Morton 13, Brittany Coles 8, Summer Decker 7, Kayla Price 4, Kiyarra Mitchell 2, Pilar Morgan 2. FG: 14-38. FT: 5-8. 3-pointers: 3-12 (Coles 2-7, Morton 1-3, Decker 0-1, Mitchell 0-1). Rebs: 22 (Morton 6, Morgan 4, Price 4). Assists: 8 (Decker 3, Price 2). Steals: 16 (Price 5, Decker 4).
Natalie Greenwell 21, Alex Jones 20, Dorian Downs 9, Jasmine Deaderick 5, Tara Gilpin 5, Terra Lucas 4, Adelaide Luckett 4. FG: 27-61. FT: 5-6. 3-pointers: 9-18 (Greenwell 5-8, Downs 3-8, Gilpin 1-1, Hannah Hart 0-1). Rebs: 38 (Luckett 9, Lucas 8). Assists: 21 (Downs 5, Lucas 5, Jones 4). Steals: 25 (Greenwell 10, Lucas 4, Luckett 4).
UP NEXT: Elizabethtown opens its 17th District schedule against visiting North Hardin at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
Nathaniel Bryan can be reached at 505-1758