High School Basketball

Girls’ Traditional Bank Holiday Classic highlights: Ryle’s rockstar underclassmen pave road to semis

Manual's Nila Blackford shoots against Russell Co. in the quarterfinals of the Traditional Bank Holiday Classic in the Beuter Gymnasium at in Lexington, Ky., Thursday, December 22, 2016.
Manual's Nila Blackford shoots against Russell Co. in the quarterfinals of the Traditional Bank Holiday Classic in the Beuter Gymnasium at in Lexington, Ky., Thursday, December 22, 2016.

Ryle was 2-6 entering the Traditional Bank Holiday Classic, but the Raiders made it perfectly clear Thursday that their record does not reflect their potential.

Behind 22 points from freshman Jaiden Douthit and double-digit scoring efforts from four other players, Ryle defeated Murray, 80-66, in the quarterfinals to set up a meeting with No. 1 Butler, the defending state champions, in Friday morning's semifinals.

Maddie Scherr, a freshman who's been offered by the University of Kentucky, had 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists for the Raiders, the only semi-finalist that's played each round of the tournament. Butler, Manual and Sacred Heart had first-round byes.

Ryle knocked out Danville in overtime on Monday before holding off Eastern in the second round on Wednesday. Before extending its win streak to three games after beating Murray, Ryle had lost three straight since picking up a signature win over 10th Region favorite Mason County.

“They’re starting to feel comfortable with each other,” Raiders Coach Katie Haitz said. “That’s great. This is a great time for us to start doing that.”

Murray — the reigning 1st Region champs and a Sweet Sixteen semi-finalist last season — was without standout senior Maddie Waldrop, a Tennessee-Martin commit who underwent ACL surgery in the offseason and is expected to return in January. Macey Turley led the Tigers with 17 points.

Juliet McGregor (16), Brie Crittendon (15) and Lauren Schwartz (11) rounded out the Raiders in double digits. McGregor and Schwartz are sophomores while Crittendon is just an eighth grader.

Schwartz has an offer from Northern Kentucky. Crittendon and Douthit also are getting early looks from schools. Ryle is quickly learning how to navigate the pressure that comes with that attention.

“The girls are great about it,” Haitz said. “They wanna work as a team. They understand that it can’t be an indidivual-type game. If it is, then we’re not gonna win as many games as we’re hoping too. And they’re starting to figure that out.”

▪  Butler staved off a late rally by Simon Kenton to win 66-62 and improve its win streak to seven games after a season-opening loss to Male. Miss Basketball hopeful Jaelynn Penn, an Indiana signee, scored 18 points and had five rebounds for the Bearettes (7-1), which fell to Elizabethtown in the finals of last year’s Traditional Bank Holiday Classic.

Ally Niece, a senior with Division I offers, had game highs with 37 points and 11 rebounds for Simon Kenton.

▪  Manual improved to 9-0 this season with a 64-42 victory over Russell, the defending 16th Region champion. The Crimsons held the Red Devils to 11 points in the first half. Aniah Griffin had 18 points for Manual while Madison Darnell led Russell with 15.

▪  Sacred Heart became the third team from Louisville to advance to the semifinals, holding off Elizabethtown 51-47 in the night cap. The Valkyries (7-0) led by 14 points in the first half and by eight heading into the final quarter before E-town tied the game with a little over two minutes to play. Natalie Fichter came up big for Sacred Heart, going 4-for-4 at the free-throw line down the stretch.

Grace Berger, an Indiana commit, led Sacred Heart with 16 points and seven rebounds. E-town’s Taylor Thomas matched that output and had a game-high nine rebounds.

Elizabethtown, which lost 2016 Miss Basketball Erin Boley to graduation, had won the tournament each of the last three seasons.

▪  Lexington Catholic honored former girls’ basketball star Briana Green, who led the Knights to back-to-back state championships in 2005 and 2006, prior to the start of the Manual-Russell game. Green recently was named to the latest team of Harlem Globetrotters.

Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps