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If you didn’t make the trip to Diddle Arena in Bowling Green last Wednesday night, Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, you missed a treat. The Marion County Lady Knights put on a show that many people will never forget.
The girls were focused throughout the tournament and showed composure even in the toughest minutes, unlike last year’s young team that seemed overwhelmed on the big stage and suffered the disappointing loss in the first round of the state tournament.
This year, however, was a different story. Not only did the Lady Knights make it past the first round, defeating Montgomery County by 14 points, with a score of 55-41, but they also knocked off Butler in the second round by a score of 41-26. Yes, you read it right. The Lady Knights held a team to 26 points in the state tournament!
And yes, for those who were wondering, by winning this second round game, the 2010-11 Lady Knights have made Marion County girls basketball history. They are the first girls basketball team to make it to the semi-final game of the state tournament.
And what a game it was!
The match up that most people had expected for 11 a.m. Saturday, March 12. Marion County vs. DuPont Manual. The No. 7 ranked team in the state playing the No. 1 ranked team for a chance to compete in the state title game. Marion County fans crowded into the arena to cheer on their Lady Knights, hoping to see an upset and stay to watch the championship game later that night.
It was one of the most exciting high school basketball games that I have witnessed. Back and forth it went, with both teams battling as hard as they could. No team led by more than nine points as the two teams took it down to the wire. With just seconds remaining, the Lady Knights were down by two points and actually had three shots in the last possession to tie the game and send it into overtime. But this was not their year.
The Lady Knights fell to Manual 56-54 and will have to wait another year to try for a state title run.
As Jesse Osbourne said after the loss last year in the first round, the Lady Knights have seen what it is like to play at Diddle and they can take a step closer to the state title next year if they’re so lucky.
Well, they were so lucky and they did take a step closer to the title. They took their first two games and lost in the state semi-finals.
So what does that say about next year?
Will the Lady Knights take an even closer step, knowing not only how it feels to play at Diddle but also to experience some success there?
Can they bring the state title home to Marion County, a feat that no girls basketball team has accomplished? We will have to wait and see.
But I can assure you that the players think so. In a post-game press conference after the loss to Manual Saturday morning, sophomore Makayla Epps said, “We’ll be back next year, and we’re going to win it all.”
Losing in the state semi-final game just made the girls want it even more and I can imagine it will make them an even better team next year.
I want to congratulate the Lady Knights on a great season and an exciting postseason, putting them in the school record books as the first final four girls basketball team ever. I look forward to next season as many of the starters return and will have a chance to improve even more before next year’s state tournament.
Keep an eye out for next year’s Lady Knights. They will definitely be on a mission and will hopefully go the distance as Epps predicted.