Kiarah Dornan was feeling the pressure late Friday evening in Cecilia. Taking on Central Hardin in what had been a back-and-forth game, Elizabethtown’s undefeated start to the season was on the line with the team again trailing the Lady Bruins in the fourth quarter.
That was until Dornan found an opening to try for a three-pointer.
“My heart was beating fast. It was just like my heart stopped,” Dornan said. “I knew we had to do it and I just shot it and it went in.”
Down by two, Dornan’s shot put Elizabethtown back ahead, only this time for good as the Lady Panthers picked up a 60-55 17th District victory.
“You’ve gotta give Central Hardin all the credit in the world. Their kids played hard and made shots and they were ready,” Elizabethtown coach Donnie Swiney said. “Fortunately, fourth quarter, we made some plays there. Kiarah hit a couple of huge threes. We’ve got some room to get better, but we had to have somebody else step up and Kiarah did. We didn’t play well as a whole, but it’s something to learn from and hopefully we can get better from here on.”
Dornan finished the night as the Lady Panthers’ scoring leader with 16 points.
Swiney additionally complimented the effort of Kenzie Franklin, who brought in 10 points on the night.
“I’m so proud of how hard Kenzie worked down low tonight. We didn’t give her the ball much, but when she went and got it, good things happened,” Swiney said. “She was big for us tonight.”
The win improved Elizabethtown to 7-0 on the season.
On the other side, the loss dropped Central Hardin to a losing record at 2-3. Despite the final result, Lady Bruins coach Kristina Covington-Jones was complimentary of the effort her team showed.
“Very, very proud of my girls, because the first four games is not how Central Hardin plays basketball. It’s not how we came in wanting to play, how we wanted to play,” Covington-Jones said. “Tonight, win or loss on the board, I think that we had a win as far as our team is concerned. We came out, it was fun to watch, it was basketball. It was good on the sideline. Everything that you want in the game of basketball, we’ve seen tonight.”
An early 4-0 Elizabethtown lead quickly turned into a Central Hardin lead following a three-point basket from Kaniya Kendricks and two more points from Monica Lindsey shortly after. The Lady Bruins stayed in front for the rest of the first quarter and opened the second quarter up 15-12.
Elizabethtown kept right with Central Hardin, briefly taking control at 18-17 off a Freeman free throw before Lindsey hit a three-pointer to put the Lady Bruins back on top. Dornan responded for the Lady Panthers by tying the game at 20-20, starting what would be a 13-2 run for Elizabethtown to finish the first half with a 31-22 lead.
Central Hardin answered out of the gate in the second half, hitting 16 unanswered points to jump out to a 38-31 advantage before the Lady Panthers found a basket. Elizabethtown was able to tighten the deficit, but the Lady Bruins finished the third quarter ahead 42-39.
The lead changes continued in the fourth quarter. Elizabethtown took control again off a three-point play courtesy of Leah Macy, only for the Lady Bruins to briefly put themselves back in front at 47-45 off a basket from Mallory Reed.
Dornan responded with the three-pointer that ultimately put the Lady Panthers ahead for the game’s remainder. She would find another basket from outside the line shortly after.
Up 52-48 after Dornan’s second tre of the quarter, Elizabethtown added another eight points while holding Central Hardin to seven to stay on top through the game’s remainder.
“I am proud of how we battled back from a horrible start to the second half and still found a way to win,” Swiney said. “That tells me a lot about this group of girls.”
Up next for Elizabethtown is another district matchup, this time at home Monday evening against John Hardin. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
Central Hardin also returns to action Monday, hitting the road for a 7 p.m. game against Breckinridge County.
E’TOWN 60, CENTRAL HARDIN 55
E’TOWN: 12 19 8 21- 60
CENTRAL: 15 7 20 13- 55
E’town: Dornan 16, Macy 15, Freeman 14, Franklin 10, Clark 3, Payne 2. FG: 18. FT: 20-31. 3-pointers: (4) Dornan 3, Clark 1.
Central Hardin: Kai. Kendricks 13, Kan. Kendricks 12, M. Lindsey 12, A. Lindsey 11, Reed 4, Hilbert 3. FG: 22. FT: 5-11. 3-pointers: (6) M. Lindsey 2, Kan Kendricks 2, Kai Kendricks 1, Hilbert 1.