From the opening tip, it was clear Barren County came to Rupp Arena to make some noise.
The Trojanettes did that not only with arguably the largest fan base yet seen in two weeks of high school action here, boys or girls, but also with a fast-paced, unselfish team that defeated Pikeville 65-47 in Thursday’s opening round of the 58th KHSAA Girls’ Sweet Sixteen.
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Elizabeth Bertram had eight of her game-high 21 points in the first period as Barren jumped to an 11-2 start and 17-6 end of a first quarter that clearly established the Trojanettes as a force on the floor and in the stands.
“This fan base, it means a lot to us,” said McKenzie Engand who led Barren with 12 rebounds as the Trojanettes dominated the Panthers on the glass as well, 45-27. “I think when we see gold and burgundy, it really helps us. Seeing that many people travel this far, it amazes us.”
Barren (32-4) had as many assists in the first half (13) as many teams in the tournament have had in full games. Their game total of 19 tied Scott County for the most thus far.
“That’s one thing we’ve been doing all year,” said Barren Coach Piper J. Lindsey. “Two of my 1,000-point scorers (Bertram and Bailey Pedigo) also lead us in assists with over a hundred. I think the girls do a good job of sharing the basketball and really could not care less who gets the credit. It’s all about whoever’s open.”
Barren’s offense continually looked to make passes to cutting players at each elbow, generating pull-up jumpers, assists to the low post or kickouts for threes as Pikeville struggled to defend against the constant motion in the half court and a relentless pace when Barren got in transition.
“We thought we could lay off of them and that wasn’t the best idea,” Pikeville Coach Kristy Orem said.
In the third period, Pikeville began knocking down shots, including what looked to be big two big three-pointers from Alivia Gearheart and another from Kelsey Jo Tackett, but the Panthers made no headway into Barren’s lead as the Trojanettes answered them bucket-for-bucket. Pikeville got the Barren lead down to 13 twice in the fourth as Tackett made two more threes on her way to a team-high 14 points, but the Panthers got no closer.
“Obviously we didn’t get the good start that we wanted, and I didn’t know how they would handle the jitters,” Orem said. “We hadn’t been behind for three weeks, and it was a new thing for them ... and I think that was the first time you could see a little panic, and I think it set in and made our offense not what it should have been (early on).”
Bailey Pedigo had 18 points and eight assists and Mallory Pedigo added 13 points for Barren. Pikeville (27-8) got 13 points from Kirsten Cole-Williamson.