Lady Bombers Fall In All A Semifinals
The Ballard Memorial Lady Bombers advanced to the All A Semifinals with a dominating 55-34 victory over the Carlisle County Lady Comets on Tuesday night, January 21st at Paducah Tilghman.
Ballard Memorial’s Hailey Houston claimed the All A Academic Award for the Lady Bombers prior to the game, and then went out and scored a career high 21 points to help lead the Lady Bombers to the victory. But the story of the game was the Lady Bomber defense. Shelby Rollings once again took the Lady Comets top scorer Heaven Hooper out of contention with her denial defense. And when Rollings took a breather, Meghan Walker came in and denied the Lady Comet senior an opportunity to score. Hooper came into the game averaging 15 points a game, but was held scoreless in the quarterfinal game. In fact, if it were not for Carlisle County’s Courtney Case, the Bombers would have blown the Lady Comets out of the gym in the first half. The Lady Bombers jumped out to the 6-0 lead and led after the opening eight minutes 17-3. Case came off the bench to score 11 points for the Lady Comets in the second quarter to keep them in the game, as the Bombers continued their balance scoring attack that held the 31-15 lead at the intermission. The Lady Bombers inside defense was also key as they had numerous block shots preventing any Lady Comet attempts to reach the rim.
The Lady Comets would get the deficit back to 14, but the Lady Bombers would start to stretch the lead back out. Leah Shelley would hit a three later in the quarter to extend the lead to 20 and a short time later, she would add a couple of free throws for the 21 point lead. The Lady Bombers pushed the lead to 45-24 after three quarters of play and maintained that advantage to the 55-34 victory. “We’ve got so many girls that can contribute to our teams,” said Coach Kayla Vance following the game. She added, “Defense was key. I’ve been preaching defense to them and blocking out. I am really proud of them.”
In addition to Houston’s 21, Shelley finished the night with 14, while Abbi Denton and Kenzie Blackford added eight each and Rollings along with Ashleigh Tyson both had two.
The win propelled the Lady Bombers into the semifinal matchup with the number one seed Murray Lady Tigers. The Lady Tigers had won the prior two meetings by a combined 62 points so the Lady Bombers had a tall task ahead on Thursday night, January 23rd. The Lady Bombers struck first as Abbi Denton sank a pair of free throws, but then Murray would outscore the Lady Bombes 9-2 to take the five point lead. The Lady Bombers tried to attack the Lady Tigers inside defense, but the Lady Tigers were too physical and would bump the Lady Bombers out from under the basket. Murray would have numerous block shots on Shelley and Houston in the opening quarter, as the Lady Bombers would not get any foul calls on the Lady Tigers. Those calls would not fall the Lady Bombers way as Shelley would try and get some separation from the Lady Tigers physical play, and she would draw an offensive foul call herself. Shelley then decided to go outside and found some freedom and was able to can a trey to cut the lead to 9-7. The Lady Tigers would score the last seven points of the quarter to take the 16-7 lead. Shelley would once again find the range from behind the arc to start the second quarter for to trim the lead to 16-10. The Lady Bombers continued to struggle getting to the basket and tried to keep the game close. The Lady Tigers were finally whistled for their second foul of the half with 35 seconds remaining in the opening 16 minutes of play. By that time, they had built the 29-16 advantage.
The second half started with both teams matching baskets. The Lady Bombers were down 35-23 late in the third before the Lady Tigers would start to extend that lead. They outscored the Lady Bombers 6-1 to close the period with the 41-24 lead.
The Lady Tigers would score nine of their first 11 points in the final quarter from the charity stripe to push the lead to 52-28. The Lady Bombers would fall to the two time defending All A regional champion Lady Tigers 59-34. Abbi Denton would lead the way for the Lady Bombers with 14 points while Shelley added 13. Houston was held to five and Blackford added two points in the losing effort for the Lady Bombers. Ballard Memorial would end the game hitting 10 of 32 field goals from inside the arc and 2 of 11 from behind the arc. They were able to connect on 8 of 12 free throws. Murray finished hitting 18 of 44 field goal attempts from two point range and 2 of 10 from long range while hitting 17 of 21 free throw attempts. An emotional Coach Vance said after the game, “I just told them you can’t give up. It’s really hard. I know how this feels.” She added, “They wanted to win so bad, especially the seniors. I hated we couldn’t win the game for them. Vance praised the defensive performance of the team and said they just need to work on a few little things. Coach Vance added, “As soon as we can fix these kinks, work on the little things, we’re going to be a heck of a ball club and everybody else in the region better watch out.” Abbi Denton and Leah Shelley were selected to the All Tournament Team for their performances.
The Lady Bombers are 6-10 on the year and will continue regular season play on Tuesday night at Hickman County. Then they will wrap up the week with their Homecoming game against Livingston Central on Friday night the 31st.