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Lady Eagles beat PRP in regional opener

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2014 Sixth Region Girls' Basketball Tournament

By Thomas Barr

 HEBRON ESTATES - The hurdle has been cleared. It just too five extra minutes to make it happen.

For the first time in school history, the North Bullitt Lady Eagles won its first game in regional basketball competition.

Coming from six points behind early in the third quarter, the Lady Eagles defeated the Pleasure Ridge Park Panthers 63-57 in overtime.

"I'm so proud of them," said head coach Amber Courtney. "We knew we could do it but we knew we had to work hard."

Tough and physical would be the way to describe the first round of play in the Sixth Region tournament.

Having won the 23rd District tournament, North Bullitt had the opportunity to host the opener. The two teams had played Feb. 13 with PRP coming away with a 45-41 victory.

On Tuesday, it was a supercharged start by Maria George that got her Lady Eagles off to a quick start.

The senior scored nine of the team's 11 points en route to a three-point advantage at the end of the first quarter.

Behind the inside play of senior center Rayven Shead, the visitors came back to take a 22-21 halftime advantage.

Trying to keep the ball away from the big center, Courtney credited Rachel Badgett and a host of Lady Eagles work being successful for much of the evening. 

Still, once she got the ball inside, Shead was a load to handle. She would score 11 points on the evening but only three after halftime.

It was sophomore guard Carnethia Brown who took charge early in the second half.

She scored the first 12 points of the third quarter on a variety of drives to the hoop. Remi Jones added a pair of driving layups.

But the Lady Eagles would not back down.

Down 30-24 with 5:41 left in the quarter, Badgett went to work inside. Hitting a pair of free throws and then making a steal and a layup, the crowd got back into the game.

But the visitors responded and the lead grew back to six with 3:44 left.

Erin Dolan came up with a big steal and fed Katie Downey for a layup. Dolan followed with a basket and Savannah Morrison's jumper led to a PRP timeout.

After Downey hit two free throws, a PRP turnover led to Morrison scoring on a backdoor pass from Downey to make it 40-38 with 59 seconds left.

The Lady Eagles would never trail again.

Dolan closed out the quarter with a three-pointer.

With Shead out with three fouls, Leslie Fries took over. She drove to the hoop to score five points.

Brown's consecutive hoops tied the score at 48 with 2:51 left.

George would make a free throw and then took a big hit from Shead on a layup. The basket was good for a 51-49 lead.

Brown's layup at the 1:51 mark tied the score and Courtney had her team hold the ball for the final shot.

With a second left, Downey got a good look at a 15-foot shot but it bounced off the rim.

Feeling if her team could get the overtime lead it would be in good shape, Courtney was correct.

Dolan's steal led to Downey getting free for a layup. She was fouled on the play and hit two charity tosses.

Lauren Deel got free inside and Downey hit two free throws for a four-point lead with 2:27 left.

Leading 57-55 with 1:45 left, North Bullitt went into its motion offense to kill the clock.

At this point, Courtney was very confident in her ball handlers and their free throw shooting.

Morrison, George and Downey would combine for six of eight down the stretch to secure the victory.

Having won the district title the past three years, the goal in 2014 was to make a run in the regional tournament.

It had never been done before…until Tuesday.

"We score off our defense," said Courtney, whose team went to 22-7 on the season. "We made some key stops tonight."

North Bullitt didn't particularly like the full-court pressure applied by the Panthers. With some foul trouble in the first half, Courtney had to make some lineup changes. More than that, some different people were handling the ball.

"We didn't back down," said Courtney. "We continued to play hard."

At the end of regulation, Courtney said there was no doubt she was playing for the final shot. And she was pleased with the look Downey got.

"We had the ball in the hand of one of our shooters at the end," said Courtney. "That's what we wanted."

In overtime, Courtney said she felt PRP might be getting a little tired of the up-tempo. Getting an early lead was the key.

"I felt that if we could get ahead, they would have to come get us and foul us," said Courtney.

The game plan worked to perfection.

And the years of hard work has finally paid off.

"It's huge for the girls," Courtney said of the victory. "They see that the hard work does pay off."

She credited George with having tremendous energy early and then with the defensive skills to guard Brown late in the game. And, then, the senior had to play the overtime after getting sick at the end of regulation.

"She was fantastic," said Courtney.

Badgett also earned high praise for her defensive effort against the taller Shead.

While it was a big victory, Courtney said she reminded her team that there was still work to be done against Mercy on Thursday. That will be an 8:15 p.m. contest at Valley High School.

"We can play with anybody," said Courtney. "We just have to play hard."

 

At North Bullitt

NORTH BULLITT (11-10-22-8-12) 63 - Maria George 14, Katie Downey 14, Savannah Morrison 12, Erin Dolan 9, Rachel Badgett 6, Lauren Deel 6, Devyn Tompkins 2

Pleasure Ridge Park (8-14-16-13-6) 57 - Carnethia Brown 24, Rayven Shead 11, Remi Jones 8, Leslie Fries 14, Paige Murphy 5, Perri Mitchell 4