LEXINGTON, Ky. – Revenge never tasted so sweet for the Sacred Heart basketball team as the Valkyries defeated Anderson County 63-53 in the semifinals of the Mingua Beef Jerky Girls Sweet Sixteen® Basketball Tournament at Rupp Arena.
The win for Sacred Heart (24-7) not only meant a trip to tonight’s state finals, but it also earned head coach Donna Moir her 700th career win at the helm of the Valkyries,
Anderson County (28-3) defeated Sacred Heart 69-68 on Feb. 20, but the Lady Bearcats could not overcome a 3-for-11 shooting performance in the fourth quarter of today’s loss.
““Wow. I guess I have been doing it a long time,” Moir expressed during the postgame press conference when asked about reaching the 700-win plateau. “When we came up here Carly Ormerod came and talked to our team and talked about all the former players that have played in our program that are really pulling for us and this team. I have to think back to my first teams, and I probably didn’t know the heck what I was doing. I was a 25-year-old coach getting a varsity program like this. I’m just so proud of all the kids that have come through our program and to get this 700th win at Rupp Arena really means a lot. We want 701 for sure.”
Both teams scored the same amount in each of the first three quarters, but Sacred Heart used clutch free throw shooting to take the fourth quarter 23-13 for the 10-point victory.
“It was a tough game,” added Moir. “When we got down seven, we didn’t panic. Olivia Kaufman came in and did what she done in all practices and knocked down two big threes for us. We hit some great free throws. I think our team kind of took it a little personal that (Anderson County) didn’t think we were a very athletic team. We are ready to play tonight for sure.”
With Anderson County leading 38-32 late in the third quarter, super substitute Kaufman drained back-to-back 3-pointers to knot the score at 38-38.
Another key factor that began in the third quarter was Moir’s decision to put Trimiti Ralston on Anderson County’s Amiya Jenkins.
Jenkins was having an outstanding game until the defensive switch by Moir. Jenkins did finish with 24 points, but she only made one basket and four free throws the entire fourth quarter.
“We were trying to run them off the 3-point line a little bit and make them make tough shots,” stated Moir. “I think the change in the game was when we put Triniti on Jenkins. She did a great job shutting her down and got her frustrated and then we were able to make our run.”
Anderson County took a 45-42 lead with 6:55 left in the game, but Josie Gilvin answered with four consecutive points to give the Valkyries a lead they would not give up.
Gilvin was clutch when her team needed her the most scoring 10 of her team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter and added 11 rebounds for a double-double.
Ralston added 13 of her own as Sacred Heart went 13-for-17 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter alone.
The Valkyries were 22-of-29 from the free throw line for the game.
Lady Marshalls Dominate Lady Colonels in Second Half, Advance to State Finals
Marshall County outscored Henderson County 22-9 in the fourth quarter on the way to a 50-33 victory for the program’s first state title game appearance since winning the 1982 title over Mercy Academy.
The head coach in that 48-44 victory in 1982 was Howard Beth, who is the father of current Marshall County head coach Aaron Beth.
The Lady Marshals (25-2) led just 28-24 at the half, but their stringent defense forced Henderson County (21-5) to shoot just 3-for-21 from the field in the second half.
Cayson Conner led Marshall County with 14 points and was closely followed by Layne Pea with 13 and Halle Langhi with 12.
Jarie Thomas led Henderson County with 11 points and hauled in a game-high 14 rebounds.
Marshall County and Sacred Heart will meet in tonight’s state championship game that is slated to begin at 8 p.m.