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Lady Knights continue to make history

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By Josh Veatch

 

Saturday night the Marion County Lady Knights locked up the bid to the 2011 Sweet 16 state basketball tournament by defeating the Elizabethtown Lady Panthers in one of the most competitive girls basketball games in Marion County history recently.
With the return trip to Bowling Green, the Lady Knights join only the 1992 and 1993 Knights as the only repeat regional champions in school history.  
The 2010 appearance was the first for the Lady Knights in 15 years and the first for Marion County basketball since the Knights competed in the state tournament in 1997. The Lady Knights have made the trip to play in the Sweet 16 in six different seasons including this year.
Although the Lady Knights have had limited success at the state level, fans hope that this year will be different.  Looking back through history you can see that in four of the previous five trips to the state tournament, the Lady Knights have been eliminated in the first round.
Here’s a quick rundown on the tournament history of the Marion County Lady Knights as participants in the Sweet 16.
In their first year as a varsity sport Marion County’s Lady Knights defeated Meade County 31-26 in the 5th region final to earn a bid to the state tournament. The tournament that year was played in Richmond at Eastern Kentucky University on March 26, 1975. The Lady Knights opening round opponent was Monticello. Marion County led briefly by one or two points but too many turnovers and a 12-0 run by Monticello to end the third quarter doomed the Lady Knights. Marion County fell to Monticello by a final score of 41-27, ending their season with a record of 15-3.
Five years later, on March 20, 1980, the Lady Knights returned to the state tournament by defeating North Hardin 68-46 in the 5th region championship game.  
This season’s tournament was also played at Eastern Kentucky University and Marion County’s opening round opponent was the Mercy Missles, now known as the Mercy Jaguars. The Lady Knights entered the tournament with an unblemished record of 28-0, but were not highly rated on any rankings and flew under the radar all season.
Marion County expanded its lead at one time to 11 points in the first half, but could not hang on. Mercy took the lead for good at 36-35 early in the fourth quarter behind stellar free throw shooting. Marion County would go on to lose by five points with a final score of 50-45.
Two years later Henry Clay would be the Lady Knights opening round opponent on March 17, 1982. On the campus of Eastern Kentucky University, Marion County was once again sent home early with a heartbreaking loss by only one point with a final score of 44-43.
In a game where Marion County led from the end of the first quarter until early in the fourth quarter, a last second 12-foot jumper off a Lady Knight missed free throw gave Henry Clay the victory. The loss dropped Marion County’s record in the state tournament to 0-3 with all three losses coming in the opening round. The Lady Knights were one win away from a three-peat appearance in the state tournament. A 49-34 loss in the 1981 5th region final would deny Marion County the opportunity.
It would be another 13 years before the Lady Knights would make it back to the state tournament. In 1995, Marion County would sport a record of 30-2 heading into the Sweet 16 at the Civic Center in Frankfort. The opening round opponent on March 23, 1995, was Warren East.
Our very own Stevie Lowery played on that team that collected the program’s very first win in the state tournament. Kristy Murphy put in 26 points and collected 19 rebounds as the Lady Knights came out on top 61-52. By advancing on to the second round, Marion County played on the following day against Pulaski County. The Lady Knights trailed nearly the entire game and came up short with a final score of 74-67. Murphy was held to six points in the first half but came back strong in the second half and finished with 33 points. As part of her efforts, Murphy was selected to the Sweet 16 all state tournament team and the associated press all state 2nd team.
Last year, 15 years after the last Lady Knight state tournament appearance, Marion County advanced past Elizabethtown to secure the bid for the state tournament. The Lady Knights entered the Sweet 16 as the number one ranked team in Kentucky with a record of 33-1.
Marion County’s opening round opponent on March 10, 2010 would be the Mercy Jaguars. Just 23 days prior to their match-up, the Lady Knights easily defeated the Jaguars in the Roby Dome 69-53.
Mercy would show their dominance early and often as they led for most of the game and went on to defeat Marion County 67-51. Then freshman Kyvin Goodin-Rogers would lead the way with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and five blocks but the Lady Knights couldn’t overcome the Jaguars and were sent home once again.
This year Marion County returns to the state tournament as 5th region champions, and look toward an opening round match-up against Montgomery County tonight.  
Hopefully, the Lady Knights will fair a bit better than last year, and can improve on their 1-6 overall record in the Sweet 16.
As a basketball fan in Marion County, I know there will be overwhelming support for our home team in Diddle Arena. I want to personally wish the Lady Knights good luck and Jessica and I will see you all in Bowling Green.