LADY BOMBERS FACE ONE-TWO PUNCH
In preparing for the All A Tournament next week, the Lady Bombers faced the number one and two seeds in the tournament. The Lady Bombers started on Thursday, January 9th at the number one seed Murray Lady Tigers. The Lady Bombers hung tough for one quarter. After the host Lady Tigers jumped out to the 8-2 lead, Ballard Memorial would get back to back buckets from Abbi Denton and Kenzie Blackford to trim the deficit to two. One of the trio of six foot tall Lady Tiger inside players, freshman Maddie Waldrop, made a bucket to push the lead to four. Denton responded with a pair of free throws to inch closer at 10-8. Murray would take a 13-8 advantage after the first quarter of play. Murray Coach Rechelle Turner said following the game on the WNBS post game show she challenged her players to either pick up the play, or they will find a seat on the bench beside her. They evidently wanted more playing time as they totally dominated the second quarter.
Hailey Houston would score the first points of the second quarter for the Lady Bombers to trim the lead to 13-10. However, the Lady Tigers took control as they outscored the Lady Bombers 26-3 to end the half with the demanding 39-13 lead. The only two things remaining would be the outcome and if Lady Bomber senior Denton would get her 1000th point of her career. With about 2:30 remaining in the contest, Denton scored her 17th point of the game which gave her the milestone mark of 1000 points. She became the 17th different Lady Bomber to reach the 1000 point mark of their career. The Lady Tigers would continue their dominating performance and won the game 72-34. “We did a lot of things wrong,” said Lady Bomber Coach Kayla Vance, as she added, “We had a good game plan, we just had a hard time executing.” Only four Lady Bombers got into the scoring column. In addition to Denton’s 17, Houston added nine, Blackford had five, and Jayde Newton got her first varsity points of the year with three. While the Lady Bombers struggled hitting only 11 of 53 total shots for 21%, Murray connected on 31 of 57 field goals for 54%.
The Lady Bombers had little time to regroup as they turned around and went to the Viking’s Den to face the number two seed St. Mary Lady Vikings on January 10th. This turned in to a classic basketball game between two former district rivals. The first quarter saw eight lead changes with neither team leading by more than four points. The Lady Bombers trailed 18-14 when Shelby Rollings canned a trey to cut the Lady Viking lead to 18-17 after the first eight minutes of play. Leah Shelley offensive rebound put back gave the Lady Bombers a lead at 21-20. It would be a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the night. Ballard Memorial would go on a 12-4 run to push the lead to 33-24. But the host would respond by scoring the last five of the quarter to cut the Lady Bomber advantage to 33-29 at the break.
The Lady Bombers would extend the lead to ten in the third quarter, but again the host Lady Vikings would respond and keep the game close. The Lady Bombers managed only two field goals in the period, but scored 11 from the charity stripe to maintain the 48-43 lead heading into the final quarter. The Lady Vikings were able to tie the game at 51 all, but the Lady Bombers would not fall behind. Ballard Memorial would score the next five to provide some cushion. The Lady Bombers needed every bit of that cushion as the Lady Vikings would cut the lead to one. Denton would foul out with 20 seconds remaining, but Alex Durbin missed two free throws that would have given St. Mary the lead. Eighth grader Blackford would be fouled with 15.9 seconds remaining. Instead of showing the anxiety of a pressure situation, she looked more like a poised veteran as she calmly sank both free throws for the 60-57 lead. The Bombers had a chance to seal the win, but a turnover with 9.2 seconds left gave the Lady Vikings new life. They were fouled with 5.4 seconds and hit one of two free throws. The Lady Bombers could not end bound the ball and were called for a five second violation. Durbin received the inbounds pass and took the baseline shot. The ball rolled around the rim and came out where a jump ball was called. Possession arrow went to the Lady Bombers with one second remaining and the Lady Bombers were able to run the clock out to secure the 60-58 victory. Blackford said after hitting those game winning free throws, “It was very, very nerve wracking,” as she added, “I thought I was going to get through it.” And get through it she did, with flying colors. Coach Vance said, “I am so proud of them, for persevering. We had a lot of bad things happen at the end of that game and we still came out and won.” She added, “We’ve got to bring our A game every time.” Denton led the scoring attack with 24, Shelley had 16, while Blackford and Houston both ended with seven, and Rollings finished with six.
The Lady Bombers stand at 4-9 on the year and 0-1 in district play. They have faced the one-two punch of Murray and St. Mary, and now they face the three punch of the 3rd seeded All A team in the Mayfield Lady Cardinals on Tuesday night, January 14th at the Green Palace. The Lady Bombers enter the All A as the number four seed and will play the number five seed Carlisle County on Tuesday, January 21st at 6:00 at Paducah Tilghman.