MURRAY – The Lady Marshals went gunning for their third straight and 22nd overall First Region basketball tournament championship Monday night at Murray State University’s CFBS Center against rival Murray.
Meanwhile, the Marshals took on Mayfield in the second boys semifinal battle Monday night. The winner of that game will advance to tonight’s championship game at 7 p.m.
Their opponent will be the winner of the Graves County-McCracken County matchup in Monday night’s first game.
Trips to the Sweet Sixteen state tournaments await the two winners. The girls tournament opens Wednesday at Diddle Arena on the Western Kentucky University campus in Bowling Green.
The First Region champion will take on Fourteenth Region champion Perry County Central, 23-6, at noon Thursday as first-round games continue.
The boys Sweet Sixteen gets under way the next week at Rupp Arena in Lexington.
In the First Region girls bracket, Marshall County defeated Paducah Tilghman 59-53 in their semifinal battle Sunday, while Murray advanced by beating McCracken County 53-30.
Monday night’s title game was a familiar matchup. It was the third time in a row Marshall County and Murray have played for the championship. Marshall County won last year 41-39 and whipped the Lady Tigers 60-50 in 2012 to win their 20th region championship title.
Marshall County has won nine of the last 15 First Region championships. Other titles came in 1994 and 11 in a row from 1981 through 1991. That stretch of region champs produced two state champions, in 1982 and 1984.
The Lady Marshals have played in the title game 12 times over the past 15 tournaments.
Coach Joseph Simmons went into Monday night’s game with two region titles in three seasons.
Lady Tigers coach Rechelle Turner captured a championship in 2010 with a 45-44 victory over Calloway County and fell 42-27 to the Lady Lakers in 2011, making Monday night’s game the fifth straight region finale in which the Lady Tigers have played.
Turner, whose maiden name is Cadwell, played on four straight region champion teams from 1988 through 1991 for Marshall County. She is third on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,950 points.
She played under coach Howard Beth, who until this year was the winningest coach in Kentucky girls high school basketball history with a record of 794 wins and 149 losses.
Murray was looking for its third region title.
In boys competition, the Marshals were gunning for their third First Region title in four years after back-to-back championships in 2011-2012. The Marshals had won seven First Region titles going into this year’s tournament and had played in the region championship game six times in the last 15 years.
Before consolidation, Marshall County schools won 13 First Region titles. The winners were Birmingham, 1932; Calvert City, 1934-35; Sharpe, 1938; Benton, 1943, 1958; Brewers, 1944, 1946-47-48; North Marshall, 1959, 1961, 1965.
Sharpe in 1938, Brewers in 1948 and North Marshall in 1959 went on to win state championships.
In the first years of girls basketball in Kentucky, according to results listed on the KHSAA website, one Marshall County team won a region championship. It was Gilbertsville in 1932, the last year for girls competition until it was reinstated in 1975.