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GIRLS' PREP HOOPS: Newly focused Elizabethtown rolls past North Hardin (2/2)

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By Ryan O'Gara

After dropping just their second in-state game to LaRue County on Monday, the Elizabethtown Lady Panthers have emerged with a new focus.

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And unfortunately for the North Hardin Lady Trojans, the Lady Panthers took their frustration out on them.

Elizabethtown started the game on a 15-0 run and had five players score in double digits to roll to a 75-46 victory in 17th District play that likely gives the Lady Panthers the top seed in the district tournament.

“We knew that this game was to decide the first seed even though it was technically the first game (between us). We came out and were ready to play,” said Elizabethtown senior guard Kinsey Mudd, who had 12 points off the bench. “We’ve had the first seed for a few years, and we want to keep it.”

The Lady Panthers (17-4, 5-0 district) still have three district games remaining but by virtue of the win would hold the tiebreaker over the Lady Trojans (14-6, 5-1).

Sophomore forward Erin Boley led Elizabethtown with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while junior center Reauna Cleaver added 13 points and nine rebounds.

Among the biggest improvements from the setback against LaRue County: rebounding. After getting dominated on the glass against the Lady Hawks, Elizabethtown coach Tim Mudd said the Lady Panthers emphasized rebounding the next two days in practice, and sure enough, they outrebounded North Hardin, 43-22.

“We’re trying to focus on taking those things we learned from that game and improve on it because districts is in three weeks and then region,” Boley said. “That’s what we’re really preparing for.”

In the opening run, junior guard Darien Huff scored eight of her 12 points as four Lady Panthers scored.

North Hardin, meanwhile, shot 1-of-16 in the first quarter.

“I don’t think they were scared,” North Hardin coach Darryl Murray said. “They’ve been waiting so long (for this matchup) that I think they were so amped up, just over-hyped. They were trying to force everything to go in.”

With the Lady Trojans clawing back into the game behind sophomore guard Tamiah Stanford, who had a game-high 16 points and nine rebounds, Mudd put on a show from long range.

She hit three of her four 3-pointers in the final 2:46 of the first half, each one seemingly deeper than the last. Mudd capped the barrage with a bomb from about 25 feet at the second-quarter buzzer to give Elizabethtown a 31-16 lead.

“I haven’t been in a rhythm in a while and it felt good to get back in one and hit some,” Mudd said.

While the Lady Panthers mostly settled for long jumpers in the second quarter and shot 4-of-12, they got back to the formula which has made them successful in the second half.

Junior guard Livie Bowling, who had 11 points, converted an old-fashioned three-point play to open the half and then scored on a floater 48 seconds later.

Boley and Cleaver then combined for 12 points in a 13-5 run which put the Lady Panthers up 50-27 less than a minute into the fourth quarter.

“The second half, we played a little bit more E’town basketball,” Tim Mudd said. “We made the extra pass, were a little more patient and the extra pass led us to some much higher-percentage shots.”

The Lady Trojans got within 54-36 on Stanford’s layup with 4:45 left, but could get no closer as the Lady Panthers bumped the lead to 32 in the final minute.

Freshman guard Sydney Coleman scored 12 points for the Lady Trojans, while senior guard Kiera Jones rebounded from a slow start to finish with 10 points.

Elizabethtown shot 51 percent (21-of-41) from the field to just 33 percent (20-of-60) for North Hardin. The Lady Panthers also made 27 free throws, while the Lady Trojans attempted only five.

“When (Mudd) pulled up from about 25 over there, I was like ‘Well, what do you do?’” Murray said. “It was one of those nights when everything they threw up went in, and almost everything we threw up didn’t.

“Tonight’s score was not indicative of what kind of team we are, but we’ll bounce back,” he added. “We have a few more weeks to go, and we’ll see if we can get it rolling.”

UP NEXT: Elizabethtown hosts Marion County at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. North Hardin plays at Nelson County at 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Ryan O’Gara can be reached at 270-505-1754 or rogara@thenewsenterprise.com.