Henry Clay's basketball girls followed their game plan to a T on Wednesday.
The result was a 73-61 home-floor victory over previously undefeated Male in a matchup of top 15 teams.
"We knew coming in we needed to handle the pressure and win the turnover battle, and we had to win the rebounding battle," Henry Clay Coach Eric Sanford said. "And we outrebounded them by five, which I think gave us the edge and gave us a couple extra possessions, and we were able to capitalize."
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No. 7 Henry Clay (13-2) outrebounded the Bulldogs by a 37-32 margin and won the turnover battle 30-25.
The Blue Devils sealed the win in the fourth quarter by repeatedly cashing in at the free-throw line, where they finished 28 of 40 to Male's 13 of 20.
"We knocked them down when it counted. ... We work hard on it every day," Sanford said. "Big-time players step up in big-time games, and we had some big-time players step up and knock down some free throws when we really needed them."
T'laya Lyvers led the winners with 24 points, including an 11-for-15 effort at the foul line.
"It feels good," Lyvers said of knocking Male from the ranks of the unbeaten. "It's the middle of January. We should be able to do something."
Kerrigan Davis added 13 points for the Devils, while Jordyn Jackson came off the bench to post 12 points (6 of 7 at the foul line) and 11 rebounds.
No. 15 Male (14-1) had not had a game closer than nine points, winning by an average of 22-plus points a game.
The Bulldogs ran into plenty of pressure Wednesday.
"I've got to give Henry Clay a lot of credit," Coach Champ Ligon said. "We had more turnovers at halftime (18) than we usually make in a game. Part of that was us and part of that was them. They did a great job and they gave us some looks that we didn't handle very well. All the credit goes to Coach Sanford and his girls. They wanted it more than we did, and that was apparent from the start."
Ligon was boys' coach at Bryan Station eight years through 2010 and had a record of 146-87, including a 30-3 mark in 2008 when the Shelvin Mack-led Defenders were rated No. 1 in the state.
Emilia Sexton led Male with 25 points. Logan Calvert added 17 points and seven rebounds.
Henry Clay, winning its sixth in a row, led 41-25 at halftime.
The Blue Devils used a 9-0 run to open a 28-18 lead, then closed the half with a 6-0 flurry.
"We knew coming in we had to keep switching our defenses up just to kind of throw them off," Sanford said. "We hit him them with two or three defenses, and our press got a couple key turnovers. We turned them over 30 times. Very surprising. That's just due to the girls working hard, rotating and believing. They believed they could do it, and they went out and did it."
Male pulled to within five points, 48-43, late in the third quarter. That's as close as the Bulldogs would come, though.
Lyvers opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer. Then, the Devils got 12 of their final 18 points at the free-throw line.
"We'll see how we bounce back," Ligon said. "You're going to have adversity at some point, and it's how you react to adversity. That's what life's all about.
"Nobody lives a life without adversity, and whether you're successful or not depends on how you handle that adversity."
Henry Clay 73, Male 61
MALE (14-1) — Harbison 5, Kraft 2, Green 4, Jackson 8, Calvert 17, Sexton 25. Totals 22-54 13-20 61.
HENRY CLAY (13-2) — Lyvers 24, Carter 4, Davis 13, Byars 6, Young 2, Coney 6, Jackson 12, Green 6. Totals 21-52 28-40 73.
Male 11 14 19 17—61
Henry Clay 17 24 11 21—73