Bryan Station's girls earned a trip to the 11th Region Tournament for the first time in seven years by beating host Henry Clay 60-57 in the 42nd District semifinals Tuesday night.
"This means a lot. It's a stepping stone to where we want to be," said Karra Jackson, in her second season as coach of the Lady Defenders.
"It's been an up-and-down year, but the girls kept fighting, and they made the plays tonight when they had to."
Bryan Station (15-14) will play Scott County (14-14) on Thursday for the district title.
Amber Crumbie, a 6-foot sophomore, came off the bench to lead Bryan Station with 15 points and nine rebounds.
"She played awesome," Henry Clay Coach Scott Cromwell said.
Mikyla Mosby had 13 points. Jeannay Washington, the only senior on the roster, had seven points and 11 rebounds.
Bryan Station beat defending region champ Henry Clay twice during the the regular season, but that didn't ease Jackson's worries.
"They were more tournament-sound since they won the region last year, and that's what scared me," she said.
But it was Henry Clay that looked shaky at the start of the game, falling behind 15-5.
It was an uphill climb for the Lady Devils after that. They tied it once — 21-21 — but never again.
Bryan Station had to hold on at the end, though, when Henry Clay's pressure defense caused the Lady Defenders all kinds of problems.
"Their press killed us," Jackson said, noting her team's 24 turnovers.
But Bryan Station hit enough free throws to escape.
Leading 55-49 with 3:10 left, the Lady Defenders didn't have a field goal the rest of the night.
Washington made one foul shot, and Mosby hit a pair. But it was eighth-grader Sarena Sandusky who hit the most important ones. She cashed two with 21 seconds left to give Bryan Station a 60-56 lead.
"I have no clue how she was so calm," Jackson said. "Maybe she's so young she didn't realize the magnitude of what she was doing."
Henry Clay was led by sophomore Candace Morton with 18 points. Senior Brittany Coles had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Kristin Aweimrin added 10 points for the Lady Devils.
"We told our kids all year, it's the little things," Cromwell said, "and Bryan Station did the little things tonight.
"The key stat that jumps out at me is 16 offensive rebounds, and Crumbie got a lot of those. (Jackson) has done a great job with that group, and they deserved to win."
Henry Clay had a rough second half of the season. The Lady Devils lost 12 of their last 13 games and finished with a 9-20 record.
bryan station 60, henry clay 57
HENRY CLAY (9-20) — Coles 6-19 0-2 12, Morton 5-10 8-14 18, Morgan 1-9 2-2 5, Aweimrin 2-3 5-7 10, Decker 0-1 2-4 2, James 0-2 0-0 0, Morris 0-0 2-2 2, Price 4-6 0-2 8. Totals 18-50 19-33 57.
BRYAN STATION (15-14) — Mosby 3-5 7-10 13, Crumbie 4-8 7-9 15, Caise 3-6 2-2 8, A. Prince 3-8 0-1 6, M. Prince 0-3 2-2 2, Washington 3-9 1-2 7, Clark 0-0 1-2 1, Willams 3-7 0-1 6, Sandusky 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 19-47 22-31 60.
Henry Clay 11 17 15 14—57
Bryan Station 17 17 13 13—60