Only one team out of northern Kentucky has won the girls’ basketball state tournament. Ryle is now two wins away from making it two.
The No. 2 Raiders on Friday defeated No. 6 Clark County, 64-51, to advance to the semifinals of the 58th KHSAA Girls’ Sweet Sixteen at Rupp Arena.
Ryle, the top-ranked squad remaining in the tournament after No. 1 Scott County fell earlier in the day, reached the penultimate round for the first time. This is the Raiders’ second time at state after making their debut last season. They’ll play Owensboro Catholic, this year’s All “A” Classic state champion, on Saturday.
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“I’m excited. We’re in the final four, baby,” senior Lauren Schwartz said with a laugh.
Junior Jaiden Douthitt was more pointed.
“I’m ready to play and I’m ready to take it to them,” Douthitt said.
Ryle star Maddie Scherr was sensational in the second half. She scored 20 of her game-high 26 after the break. She finished with 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals as University of Louisville Coach Jeff Walz watched courtside. Kentucky and Oregon are among the dozens of other schools that have offered Scherr, whom ESPN ranks as the fifth-best guard and No. 25 overall player nationally in the class of 2020.
Schwartz, a Rice University signee, had 12 points, six rebounds and three blocks for the Raiders. Douthitt had five points, matching the output by her primary defensive assignment — Clark County junior Kennedy Igo, a Northern Kentucky commit, who finished 1-for-8 from the field. Douthitt in the only other prior meeting between these two this season held Igo to six points.
“She had one hell of a game,” Ryle Coach Katie Haitz said.
Ryle jumped out to an 8-2 advantage barely two minutes into the contest. Clark County took its first lead, 18-17, on an Igo jumper early in the second quarter. A 9-2 run put the Cards up 23-19 with 4:40 left in period but they didn’t score over the next four minutes; Ryle in that time went on a 7-0 run to retake the lead before Jasmine Flowers hit a three-pointer to bring Clark County within 30-26 at the break.
A 5-0 run less than a minute into the second half put Ryle up nine. Clark County got it back down to four on multiple occasions but couldn’t get closer over the final 16 minutes.
Scherr scored 12 of her 20 second-half points in the third quarter and assisted on Ryle’s only other points in that period: she came up from a steal at the Clark County three-point line and from her knees flipped it behind her back to Schwartz, who bolted up the floor for an and-one conversion.
“We were struggling a little bit offensively and Coach kind of told me and Lauren at halftime, ‘It’s time to step it up, we gotta go,’” Scherr said. “ ... Fortunately I was able to drive it a lot and get to the basket.”
Flowers, who will play at the University of the Cumberlands, had a team-high 17 points for Clark County. Senior Hayley Harrison, who’s signed with Tennessee-Martin, scored 12 points, including seven of Clark County’s first nine to help keep the Cardinals in it early.
What: Girls’ high school basketball state tournament
When: Through Sunday
Where: Rupp Arena
Video livestream: All games available on NFHSNetwork.com (subscription required)
Tickets: $17-$21 (Available at Rupp Arena Box Office or online at Ticketmaster.com or KHSAA.org)