A horrifying right knee injury to Manual star Krys McCune in the first quarter silenced the crowd and sapped the Crimsons on Thursday as Murray prevailed 58-41 in the first round of the St. Elizabeth Healthcare/KHSAA Girls’ Sweet 16 at BB&T Arena on Thursday.
McCune, Manual’s 6-foot-3 McDonald’s All-American who has committed to West Virginia, fell to the floor with 2:43 left in the first quarter clutching her right knee. She left the game with Manual up 11-8 and for a time it looked as though her teammates would be able to withstand Murray’s half-court trapping defense without her.
“Credit to Murray,” Manual Coach Jeff Sparks said. “They’ve got a great basketball team. We just couldn’t get back into that focus after the beginning of the game there.”
McCune came back to the bench on crutches with her knee wrapped in ice.
With the 1st Region champion not having to account for McCune’s low-post presence in the second half, the Tigers extended their defense and increased the pressure on Manual’s perimeter.
Down 11-nothing, most people in the building thought ‘we’re going to get blown out,’ but not our kids; not our coaching staff. We’ve fought back from adversity. We started making shots and started getting into our defense and our kids just did a great job.
Rechelle Turner, Murray coach
“In the second half when our defense touched every pass … I knew the momentum shifted,” junior forward Maddie Waldrop said. “Our girls just put everything on the line.”
Murray forced nine turnovers in the third quarter, fueling a 14-3 run that pushed the lead to 42-32 and essentially put the game out of reach.
Waldrop, who had her shot blocked a few times in the first half, found her rhythm and the free-throw line, using her speed to get into the lane and on the offensive glass. Waldrop was 10 of 13 at the line and six of 14 from the field to lead Murray with 22 points. She grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds (five on offense).
The Tigers, making the longest trek of any team in the field, fell behind 11-0 early as they tried shooting three-pointers over the top of Manual to no avail until Brittany Lawson came off the bench with two triples to help cut the lead to 11-8 at the 3:30 mark.
“Down 11-nothing, most people in the building thought ‘we’re going to get blown out,’ but not our kids; not our coaching staff,” Murray Coach Rechelle Turner said. “We’ve fought back from adversity. We started making shots and started getting into our defense and our kids just did a great job.”
Manual made five of 10 three-pointers in the first half to help offset the loss of McCune. Jaela Johnson’s three-pointer with 1:16 left in the half gave the Crimsons a 29-28 lead at the break. Johnson scored 10 for the Crimsons. Amara Ballard led the team with 13 points.
Murray point guard Macey Turley left the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury, but Turner said she expects the sophomore to be able to play Friday.
Butler 64, Bowling Green 52
Butler junior guard Jaelynn Penn scored eight of her 20 points in the fourth quarter to help the Bearettes pull away from Bowling Green.
After Bowling Green’s Taylor Hunter hit a jumper to open the fourth and cut the lead to 43-41. The Bearettes answered with a 10-4 run spearheaded by a Penn jumper, steal and two layups that pushed the lead to 53-45 with 6:12 left in the game. Minutes later Butler’s Allison Just hit a jumper to make it 59-50 and was credited for a block of a three-point try by Bowling Green’s Markiziah Mimms with 2:51 left to play. Two Micaiah Bowden free throws put the Bearettes up 61-50, a lead Butler was able to stretch in the final minutes to get the win.
Bowling Green led by as many as eight points to open the game, taking a 10-2 lead midway through the first quarter. But Butler quickly recovered with a 12-2 run led by Janna Lewis and Molly Lockhart who scored four points each in the rally.
Lewis and Lockhart finished with 16 and 10 points, respectively for the Bearettes. Keely Morrow led the Purples with 18 points. Bowling Green’s Oneisha Turner added 16.