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Marion County started strong, fell behind, but fought back to regain the lead and had multiple chances to send the game to overtime, but in the end, Manual survived in the Saturday morning semifinal match-up in the Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girls Sweet Sixteen.
These two heavyweights battled back and forth all game long with neither giving in to the other as the game progressed. Manual had previously defeated Marion County by 11 points on Jan. 22 as part of the RAATZ Fence Classic by a final score of 56-45. The Lady Knights were out for revenge since they admittedly did not play well in that game. With the Lady Crimsons clinging to a two-point lead with less than 10 seconds left, Marion County could not connect on any of three attempts at the basket within eight feet as Manual escaped with a 56-54 victory.
As the first quarter began all in attendance could see that this would be a battle for every second of the 32-minute game. The Lady Knights jumped out to a 7-0 lead that forced Manual coach Stacy Pendleton to burn an early timeout only 2:20 into the game.
The seven-point lead would be the biggest of the game for the Lady Knights. Manual would answer back with a 9-2 run of their own to tie the score at nine points with 1:51 on the first quarter clock. The lead would change hands twice and the score would be tied on three different occasions as it was at the end of the frame when the two teams were deadlocked at 13 points each.
A layup by junior Bre Elder would put the Lady Knights back on top by two early in the second quarter, 15-13. However, Marion County would only be able to connect on a free throw over the next 3:20 while the Lady Crimson put in 10 points to grab a 23-16 lead with 4:24 left until halftime.
The Lady Knights played evenly with the Lady Crimsons over the final four minutes of the first half until the halftime margin was six points. Sophomore Makayla Epps led the way for Marion County in the frame by scoring seven points to keep the Lady Knights within striking distance at the halftime break with a score of 33-27.
A three point goal only seven seconds into the third quarter by Manual would give them their biggest lead of the night at nine points with a score of 36-27. Marion County would answer with a 10-0 run of their own to grab the lead back with a score of 37-36 with 4:25 remaining in the frame.
Manual would once again regain the lead by four but Marion County would not go away. The lead would change seven times in the third quarter alone and the Lady Knights would finish the period with a three point goal by Elder to give them a two point advantage as the quarter closed out with a score of 47-45.
The final period began with five straight points by the Lady Crimsons who held a 50-47 lead with a little over five minutes left in the game. Marion County would answer with five consecutive points to regain the lead with a score of 52-50 with four minutes left.
After trailing by four points Epps would connect on a lay-up with 1:41 remaining in the game to make the score 56-54 with Manual in front. Over the final 1:03 of the game Manual failed to score giving Marion County the opportunity for the win.
However, over that time frame the Lady Knights had seven different shots at the basket, but could get none of them to fall. The final three misses came in the final ten seconds of the game and Marion County came up just short in this outstanding contest with a final score of 56-54.
In the tear-filled post-game press conference, Epps said, “We’ll be back next year, and we’re going to win it all next year.” After a quick laugh from Head Coach Trent Milby he responded, “If they (Epps, Goodin-Rogers, and Elder) will sit there and say that, I have no doubt in my mind we’ll be back next year and win it. If they say that, you can mark it down.”
Marion County 13 14 20 7 - 54
DuPont Manual 13 20 12 11- 56
Marion County (27-7): Kyvin Goodin-Rogers 20, Makayla Epps 18, Bre Elder 9, Patrice Tonge 4, Shakila Goodin 3
DuPont Manual (33-4): Mechael Guess 13, Leasia Wright 13, Kara Wright 9, Raven Hester 8, Kayla Styles 6, Laura Bodine 3, Destony Curry 2, Nicole Lauterbach 2
In quarterfinal action...
Friday afternoon the Marion County Lady Knights took on the Butler Bearettes in the quarterfinal round of the Sweet 16 state tournament.
Marion County led the entire game and outscored the Bearettes in each quarter. The score was tied at 15 points each with 4:20 remaining in the second frame, but Butler was only able to manage eleven points over the final 20 minutes of the game. Sophomores Kyvin Goodin-Rogers and Makayla Epps led the way for the Lady Knights putting in 12 and ten points respectively.
As the first quarter began Marion County quickly jumped out to a quick 7-1 lead on a pair of free throws by Goodin-Rogers with 4:09 left in the first quarter. Butler would make a bit of a comeback however, drawing to within one point at 9-8 with 1:32 remaining in the opening frame.
Sophomore Patrice Tonge would add a field goal late in the period to push the Lady Knights lead back to three as the quarter ended with a score of 11-8. Epps led the way for Marion County by putting in six of her ten points.
Early in the second frame the two teams would trade baskets within the first two minutes until the score was 15-10 with a little over six minutes left. Butler would score the next five points to draw even with the Lady Knights. This would prove to be as close as the Bearettes would be for the entire game. After allowing the score to be tied at 15, the Marion County defensive pressure picked up dramatically.
The Lady Knights finished the quarter on a 10-1 outburst to push their lead to nine points at halftime. The Bearettes only point came on a free throw while junior Bre Elder put in five of the team’s ten points over the run. Marion County was beginning to show their dominance as the half ended with a score of 25-16.
The third quarter was a low scoring affair with only 13 points being scored between the two teams. Butler only managed four points, which came on back-to-back field goals over a two-minute stretch. A late three-point field goal by Goodin-Rogers would put the Lady Knights up by 14 points as the frame closed out with a score of 34-20. Goodin-Rogers led the way in the third frame with five points while Elder added four of her nine points in the game.
In the final quarter the Lady Knights continued their dominance over Butler by allowing them only to score three points until only 17 seconds remained in the fourth quarter. A pair of free throws by Epps at the 1:37 mark would give Marion County their biggest lead of the night at 18 points with a score of 41-23. The Bearettes would add a three-point goal with 0:17 on the clock to set the final score at 41-26. Sophomore Patrice Tonge would score five of the team’s seven total points in the final period to help her team to the 15-point victory.
During the post-game press conference Head Coach Trent Milby commented on the defensive pressure.
“We played tremendous defense tonight, by far the best defense we’ve played all year,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the way we played both offensively and defensively.”
Marion County 11 14 9 7 - 41
Butler 8 8 4 6 - 26
Marion Co. (27-6): Kyvin Goodin-Rogers 12, Makayla Epps 10, Bre Elder 9, Patrice Tonge 8, Emily Fenwick 2
Butler (28-5): Aareon Smith 7, Alexis Stallard 6, Mackenzie Martinez 4, Megan Creton 3, Erica Elliot 3, Heather Wheat 2, Danielle Lawrence 1
In opening round action...
Wednesday night the Marion County Lady Knights played against the Montgomery County Lady Indians in the opening round of the KHSAA state tournament in Bowling Green at E.A. Diddle Arena. The Lady Knights were able to pick up their first win at the state level in 16 years.
The 55-41 victory over the Lady Indians was the first since a 61-52 victory over Warren East in the 1995 tournament. Junior Bre Elder along with sophomore teammates Makayla Epps and Kyvin Goodin-Rogers all split the scoring load evenly scoring 14 points each.
As the first quarter began it appeared that the Lady Knights seemed to be a bit out of sync as they missed their first four field goal attempts of the game. However, Montgomery County wasn’t able to do much better only connecting on one field goal of their own. Back-to-back baskets by the Lady Indians would give them their biggest lead of the night at 6-2 with 4:55 left in the opening frame.
Marion County was able to battle back to regain the lead at 10-8 with 2:29 remaining on a Goodin-Rogers field goal. Epps along with Goodin-Rogers would lead the way for the Lady Knights in this frame as they added six points each.
Marion County would begin to distance themselves from their opponent in the second quarter.
The Lady Knights were able to outscore their opponent 14-7 over the eight-minute span. Separate runs of 6-0 and 8-0 by Marion County expanded the lead from five points to 15 points with 1:00 remaining until halftime with a score of 32-17. The Lady Knights would commit six turnovers in the frame but poor field goal shooting by the Lady Indians prevented them from cutting into the lead. A late three-point play by Montgomery County would make the halftime score 32-20 with the Lady Knights leading.
The Lady Indians would hit four of the first five field goals in the third quarter to cut the lead to six points with a score of 34-28. Over the next two minutes the teams would battle back and forth and traded baskets.
With 3:09 remaining in the frame, the Lady Knights led by 10 points at 41-31. The Lady Indians would fail to score over the final three minutes while the Lady Knights put in eight straight points to grab a 47-31 lead as the third quarter closed out. Five different Lady Knights would score in the frame led by Goodin-Rogers with five points.
An opening three point basket by Goodin-Rogers would push the Marion County lead to its largest point of the night at 19 points with a score of 50-31 and 6:55 left in the game. Both teams committed numerous turnovers in the final frame, and neither seemed to be able to get into a rhythm.
With 2:20 left in the game, Montgomery County connected on a three-point play to cut the lead to 14 points. Neither team would be able to find the basket after that point as the Lady Knights went on to pick up the win and advance to the second round against the Butler Bearettes on Friday afternoon.
In the post game press conference Head Coach Trent Milby stated that it was good to get a win and get “the monkey off our backs” from last year’s opening round loss to Mercy. Milby also mentioned Manual as the Lady Knights possible semi-final opponent and the match up problems the Lady Crimsons present.
Epps was asked about her role as part of a big run in the first half and how she felt she could get to the basket seemingly at will.
Epps stated that she realized that the game looked rough at the beginning as she missed some early open shots before Marion County settled in to an offensive flow and pulled away from the Lady Indians.
Montgomery Co. 13 7 11 10 - 41
Marion County 18 14 15 8 - 55
Montgomery Co. (15-16): Destiny Taul 14, Erica Rogers 13, Macie Spence 7, Olivia Colliver 4, Caitlyn Conyers 3
Marion County (26-6): Bre Elder 14, Makayla Epps 14, Kyvin Goodin-Rogers 14, Patrice Tonge 6, Emily Fenwick 4, Logan Powell 2, Tessa Simpson 1