Scott County and Henry Clay met twice during the regular season and the Cardinals dominated both contests, winning once by 30 points and the other time by 40.
In the 42nd District finals at Frederick Douglass High School on Friday night the final score was much closer, but the result was the same. The Cardinals knocked off the Blue Devils 66-52 to claim their second straight district championship. Scott County, No. 4 in Dave Cantrall’s Rating the State, has yet to lose in 2018, having won 18 straight games dating back to Dec. 28.
Henry Clay showed no signs of intimidation, jumping on the Cards out of the gate to take a 7-0 lead. Blue Devils forward Kiya Thompson scored eight of her game-high 22 points in the first quarter.
Scott County took its first lead with 1:55 to play in the first half on Zephaniah Gray’s steal and coast-to-coast drive, and the Cardinals never trailed again.
Star forward Peyton Riddle had a bit of a slow start, but she heated up in the second quarter as Scott County fought back from a 10-point deficit to take a 33-28 halftime lead. Riddle finished with 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting.
“Peyton’s a senior who’s been through a lot of battles. We felt good with the ball in her hands,” Scott County Coach Steve Helton said. “She helped us start a little spurt and got the game going.”
In the closing moments of the second quarter Riddle helped seize the momentum for the Cardinals. She took a pass on the baseline and used a spin move to finish through a foul, then sank the free throw for a 31-28 lead.
“Coach kind of needed me to step up and get us going, and once everybody starts running and gunning it’s fun and it gets us going as a team,” Riddle said.
The Cardinals’ bench came up with some key contributions. Freshman guard Braylee McMath helped calm things down after starting point guard Morgan DeFoor committed a pair of turnovers. As the clock wound down in the third quarter, McMath drove from the wing with six seconds left and flipped in a tough shot at the buzzer, yelling toward the Cardinals’ bench as the buzzer sounded.
“She has the heart of a champion,” Helton said of McMath. “She gives you everything she’s got and she’s a very intelligent player. At one point she took my spot on the bench and she was coaching ... she made some huge plays.”
Malea Owens came off the bench and pitched in eight points, three blocks and a game-high 11 rebounds.
“That’s what we need from our bench, to be able to come out and give us a spark when we need it,” Riddle said. “We came out slow so they definitely helped us turn it around to get the win.”