Ryle’s role players stepped up in a big way on the biggest stage.
Their top scorers saddled with foul trouble, and one of them held to just three points, the Raiders persevered against Owensboro Catholic, 55-43, in the 58th KHSAA Girls’ Sweet Sixteen semifinals Saturday night at Rupp Arena.
Brie Crittendon scored a game-high 19 points and Juliet McGregor had 15 to lead the Raiders to their first state championship appearance. They’ll play either Male or Southwestern, who met in the later semifinal, on Sunday.
McGregor, a 5-foot-7 guard banging against a trio of Catholic six-footers most of the night, held her own on the glass. She finished with seven rebounds, four offensive, and had an atypical night at the free-throw line; McGregor, a 37.7-percent shooter at the line, went 7-for-9. Crittendon, a 78-percent shooter, went 9-for-10 and was 6-for-6 in the final 1:08 to ice the game.
“That was huge for us,” Ryle Coach Katie Haitz said. “We talk about who’s gonna be that person who steps up today, and today that was definitely Brie, and Juliet had to take a lot more minutes for us today. She did a wonderful job with that. ... I think that made all the difference in the world.”
Junior Maddie Scherr, a star recruit nationally in the 2020 class, was held scoreless on 0-for-9 shooting in the first half and didn’t score until hitting the first of two free-throw attempts with 27 seconds left to play in the third quarter. She got her first bucket — after missing her first 11 — by stealing the ball on Catholic’s side and taking it down the lane for a layup with 10 seconds left in the same period.
Scherr, who tweaked her right hamstring during the game but will be available Sunday, finished 1-for-12 from the floor but still made her presence felt defensively. She brought down six rebounds, blocked four shots and had four steals despite also dealing with foul trouble; she picked up her fourth less than a minute into the final quarter.
Rice signee Lauren Schwartz, Ryle’s leading scorer, had eight points in the first quarter but picked up her second foul with 52 seconds left in that period. She re-entered with 5:48 left in the second quarter but 11 seconds later was tagged with a charge as she attempted a baseline drive to the basket. She got her fourth midway through the last quarter but managed to play the remainder, finishing with 16 points and six steals.
“We just have to have each others’ backs and we have to trust each other, and that’s what we did,” Schwartz said. “We know what we’re all capable of.”
Crittendon had 10 of her 17 in the first half for the Raiders, who used a 7-0 run to turn a two-point deficit — their only one of the game — into a five-point lead after one quarter of play. They pushed it to eight deep in the second quarter before Catholic’s Madelyn Lyon had a jumper bounce off the rim and fall through at the halftime buzzer.
Owensboro Catholic got within two points a couple of times later in the fourth but was unable to close it out. The Aces had 20 turnovers, leading to 14 Ryle points, and were 6-for-7 at the free-throw line compared to a 27 of 32 clip for the Raiders.
“We gave ’em 27 points,” Owensboro Catholic Coach Michael Robertson said. “You can’t do that. You can’t foul that much.”