Scott County girls’ basketball Coach Steve Helton was a frustrated man after the Cardinals’ 15-point win over Henry Clay in the 42nd District finals last Friday.
“I’m not real happy right now.” Helton said afterward. “We didn’t play well at all.”
Helton had few reasons to complain on Monday, as Scott County routed Madison Southern 84-45 in the opening game of the 11th Region tournament at Eastern Kentucky University’s McBrayer Arena.
Still, he managed to find a minor fault despite the lopsided outcome.
“We looked a little winded there at the end. We shouldn’t have been winded,” he said with a laugh. “Hey, I’ve got to find something. Even Nick Saban has to find something.”
The Cardinals swarmed the Eagles on defense, forcing 28 turnovers which they turned into 36 points. They were dialed in from the field, knocking down 37 of 70 shots.
Scott County scored the game’s first six points, prompting a quick timeout from Madison Southern. It didn’t get much better for the Eagles, who made just four of 24 shots in the first half. After two free throws from Aleigh Richardson drew Madison Southern within two points at 12-10, the Cardinals went on a 22-3 run that spanned the end of the first quarter and much of the second. They led 48-23 at halftime.
Ten different Cardinals scored. Peyton Riddle led the way with 18 points on 8-for-12 shooting. Maaliya Owens added 12 points and five assists. Malea Williams nearly had a double-double with eight points and 10 rebounds.
Sophomore guard Morgan DeFoor, forced to sit most of the first half after picking up two quick fouls, led the attack after intermission. She scored 14 of her 18 points in the second half, going coast-to-coast for several flashy layups as the Cardinals triggered a running clock in the third quarter.
“Morgan is instant offense,” Helton said. “She got taken out of the flow of the game with those two early fouls then she pouted a little bit. ... She’s just got to learn not to get those two quick fouls. In the second half she came out and made some shots and got up and down the floor.”
Dunbar holds off gritty Woodford County
It wasn’t pretty or nearly as easy as its 16-point victory over the Yellow Jackets on Feb. 14, but Paul Laurence Dunbar held off Woodford County 53-51 in Monday’s second game to set up a showdown with Scott County in the 11th Region semifinals on Friday.
Miss Basketball finalist and 11th Region Player of the Year Mashayla Cecil had a tough time getting going, but came through for the Bulldogs in the game’s closing moments.
With Woodford leading 51-48 with just more than a minute to play, Cecil came up with a steal and went coast-to-coast for a tough layup. Moments later, she came off a Peyton Humphreys screen and attacked the basket, drawing a foul. Cecil hit both free throws to put the Bulldogs ahead for good.
“That’s what seniors do, they make plays when they need to,” Dunbar Coach Nick Runyon said.
Junior Cheyenne Fullwood and freshman Elise Ellison-Coons capped big games by coming up with a pair of crucial steals to seal the victory. Runyon said their contributions were a big part of why the Bulldogs are moving on.
“Cheyenne’s been big here lately,” Runyon said. “And Elise is playing well above her age.”
Fullwood scored 15 points and had four steals. She went 3-for-3 from the perimeter in the first quarter as Dunbar built a 20-16 lead. Ellison-Coons scored a team-high 18 points.
Dunbar never figured out how to shut down Woodford County’s Delaney Enlow. The sophomore forward scored 24 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, both game highs, to go along with three blocks. She hit 12 of 14 shots from the field.
“Delaney Enlow is one of the best players in the region,” Runyon said. “She’s a monster. A heck of a player.”
Runyon also praised Yellow Jackets point guard Peyton Rose for her defensive effort on Cecil. The senior shadowed Cecil the whole game, holding her to five points in the first half. Cecil didn’t score again until the 3:45 mark in the fourth quarter, a drive and finish that tied the game at 45-45. She finished with 11 points, four assists and four steals.
“Rose did a great job (on Cecil),” Runyon said. “To exert that much energy on defense and then come down and run their offense, that’s a hard thing to do.”
11th Region Tournament at EKU
6:30 p.m.: Franklin Co. vs. Henry Clay
8:15 p.m.: Madison Central vs. Lafayette