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ZONETON – The fifth time was just what the doctor ordered for the Mount Washington Lady Generals on Thursday in the championship game of the Girls’ ‘B’ Division of the Bullitt County Middle School Tournament.
Amazingly, this was the fifth meeting this season between arch-rivals and good friends Mount Washington and Eastside. The two squads split the first four meetings, setting up this meeting at Zoneton Middle School to break the tie.
Mount Washington got off to a quick start, scoring the first seven points of the game and they led 12-3 and 13-4 before Eastside found their legs, rallying to within 17-15 by halftime. In the second half, Eastside pulled ahead at 20-19 and the Lady Eagles had a 22-19 edge before Mount Washington regained the advantage.
The Lady Generals scored the next 14 points to lead 33-22 midway through the final frame. Eastside battled all the way back to within 35-32 on Allie Rae Thompson’s three-pointer with 1:19 remaining. The final 79 seconds saw only one made free throw as Mount Washington secured the win.
Mount Washington head coach Chris Williams, whose team finished the season with a 25-4 mark, couldn’t take a deep breath until the final horn shounded.
“Eastside had a lot to do with that,” Williams said of his team struggling to score in the middle of the contest. “They pressure you and make you make decisions that you are not ready to make. That got us there in the third quarter.”
Williams disrupted what Eastside was doing by putting more pressure on the Lady Eagles’ Lily Ralph who led her team with 16 points. Ralph had scored 14 of her 16 points in the two middle quarters.
“Plus we started getting some turnovers there in the fourth quarter,” Williams pointed out. “We had to put more pressure on Ralph. That disrupted them. She was a big reason that made their run. But we got some turnovers and hit some baskets.”
Eastside had only four players score in the game and 27 of the 32 points came from Ralph or Thompson who finished the game with 11 points.
Mount Washington had six players score, but most of the offense came from Lexi Taylor with 17 points while teammate Savannah Kruse had seven points.
Both teams struggled at times at the free throw line. Mount Washington did convert 10 of 20 chances while Eastside made only five of 11 opportunities. Eastside did have five three-pointers to only two for Mount Washington.
Eastside normally has a pair of Ralphs on the court, but Emmy Ralph, who would have started for the ‘B’ team as well as the ‘A’ team, is out with a leg injury and she won’t return to action for another week when many of the players move on to play at Bullitt East. Thompson is one of the assistant coaches at Bullitt East.
The Lady Eagles finished the season with a 24-9 record.
“When we played them in the past we had Emmy at point guard so we had to ask another girl to play there,” Thompson noted. “(Emily) Ezell stepped up and played well at that spot.
“I was surprised to be honest, that we could handle the pressure as well as we did,” the coach added. “It was a dogfight to get the ball up the court. It was a higher scoring game than I imagined."