BOWLING GREEN – It was a simple problem, but a serious one for Marshall County – the Lady Marshals struggled to score.
That opened the door for George Rogers Clark to take a 45-37 victory Friday and move on to the semifinals in the Sweet Sixteen girls state basketball tournament.
For Marshall County, it meant the end of the season for the second straight year in the quarterfinals of the tournament and the close of a 31-6 season, third best in school history.
“They’re a tremendous basketball team,” Lady Cardinals coach Robbie Graham said. “We watched ‘em [Thursday] night” in a 54-38 win over Perry County Central.
In that game, Marshall County hit at a 49 percent clip from the floor, 56 percent (5-for-9) from 3-point range.
“We really wanted to make ‘em shoot tough 3s,” Graham said.
Long and athletic players and a widespread defense did just that. The Lady Marshals hit only 14 of 43 field goal attempts (33 percent), including 3 of 14 from behind the arc (21 percent).
To compound matters, Marshall County – a 60 percent team from the free-throw line – managed only 6-of-14 against Clark, a 43 percent clip.
“We couldn’t make a shot,” Marshall County coach Joseph Simmons said. “Couldn’t make a free throw. That pretty much sums it up. We made ‘em yesterday, we didn’t today.”
Marshall County outscored the Lady Cardinals 12-9 in the second quarter and played them equal in the third period. But Clark jumped out to a 13-6 lead in the first period and finished with a 13-9 advantage.
Along the way, the Lady Marshals led twice – at 2-0, on a steal by Toni Fehrenbacher that led to a basket by Michaela Manley, and at 28-25, on a 3-point basket followed by a 2-pointer by Alyssa Barnard and a 3-pointer by Bailey Greer with 3:58 left in the third period.
But there were too many missed opportunities for them to sustain their bid to move on to the final four.
Manley, with 12 points, was the only Lady Marshal in double figures.
For Clark, Sandra Skinner had 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Senior Allie York, an offensive leader all year, missed all eight of her field goal attempts and hit 2 of 4 free throws. York still turned in a solid all-around game, grabbing a team-high seven rebounds, dishing out five assists and coming up with five steals.
Greer, another double-figures scorer, netted only 5 points on a 2-of-8 night.
Manley, who led the team in two First Region tournament victories and earned MVP honors in that tourney, struggled, hitting 5 of 13 shots and 1 of 2 free throws. She also had four rebounds and two steals.
G.R. Clark 13 22 32 45
Marshall Co. 6 18 28 37
G.R. CLARK: Sydney Anderson 11, Sandra Skinner 15, Maddie Hamlin 5, Paige Taylor 2, Lexxus Graham 9, Lauren Welsh, Kaytlynn Willians 2, Megan Terrel, Elizabeth Hardiman
MARSHALL CO.: Bailey Greer 5, Allie York 2, Toni Fehrenbacher 4, Michaela Manley, 12, Alyssa Barnard 9, Melissa Ross, Hannah Langhi 5
Marshall Co. 54,
Perry Co. Cent. 38
Marshall County took a 7-0 lead and never looked back in rolling to a 54-38 win over Perry County Central in the first round of the Sweet Sixteen girls basketball tournament Thursday afternoon.
The Lady Marshals got 20 points from junior point guard Bailey Greer and 16 from senior forward Allie York.
Marshall County got only 3 points from its trio of bigs, but more important was the defensive job they and the other Lady Marshals did on Kayla Rankin, the Miss Basketball candidate who came into the game averaging better than 28 points and 14 rebounds per game. The Lady Marshals limited her to 11 points and eight rebounds.
“I thought that defensively we frustrated them,” Marshall County coach Joseph Simmons said.
Frustrated them, and fooled them, as well. The Lady Marshals hit 5 of 9 shots from behind the arc and just under 49 percent overall from the floor.
That surprised Lady Commodores coach Randy Napier.
“They shot the ball better than we anticipated,” Napier said.
York hit the first of her two 3-pointers early in the game. Greer added another trey that pushed the lead to 11-2 and then Michaela Manley hit another to answer a 4-0 run by Perry Central.
Then, the Lady Marshals began to produce turnovers with their defense and hit the defensive boards. That helped them build a 30-16 lead at intermission. They closed out the second period with back-to-back 3-pointers by York and Greer.
“I think we panicked a little bit when we got behind early,” Napier said. “They [his players] got a little impatient, and when you do that, it goes from bad to worse.”
Simmons complimented his team for its focus and intensity.
“I was proud of them for really sticking to the game plan,” he said. “We told them to go show them how good our region was.”
That plan included a good bit of improvisation and general preparation, as the weather-delayed finish of the First Region tournament prevented Simmons from getting current game films of his opponent.
“We watched films from two years ago,” Greer said, referring to video from the 2011 Marshall County Hoop Fest, when Perry County Central defeated the Lady Marshals 60-43.
Rankin, then a sophomore, had 25 points and 23 rebounds in that game.
“We got an idea of what kind of player Rankin was,” said Greer, who was a freshman in the 2011-2012 season.
The Lady Marshals won their 11th straight game and improved to 31-5 as they prepared for a quarterfinal-round meeting with George Rogers Clark.
“We had a lot of confidence and felt that if we came out and did our best, we would win,” said York, who missed last season and last year’s Sweet Sixteen appearance because of knee surgery.
“”We’re playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Simmons said.
Marshall Co. 14 30 37 54
Perry Co. Cent. 8 16 25 38
MARSHALL CO.: Bailey Greer 20, Allie York 16, Toni Fehrenbacher 4, Michaela Manley 7, Alyssa Barnard 1, Nikki Fehrenbacher, Melissa Ross 4, Briley English, Josey Powell, Amanda Bailey, Hannah Langhi 2
PERRY CO. CENTAL: Lyndci Combs 3, Perri Coot 9, Kayla Rankin 11, Whitney Evans 2, Elizabeth Gayhart 4, Madison Minks, Allie Sizemore, Tori Watts, Rachel Curry 4, Katelyn Cornett 5, Kelli Ashworth, Morgan Eddington, Damara Mullins