BOWLING GREEN — Manual and Marion County, the top-rated teams in Kentucky, breezed through Saturday's semifinals of the Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girls' State Basketball Tournament in E.A. Diddle Arena.
No. 1 Manual 84, No. 5 Dunbar 59: The Bulldogs (30-7) hit 10 of their first 11 shots to build a 21-11 lead before Manual's 2-3 zone took Dunbar out of its comfort zone.
Manual rallied for a 42-35 halftime lead, then pulled away.
"In the second half, my instincts told me to start out in man-to-man because I'm a man-to-man coach," Manual Coach Stacy Pendleton said. "I walked in and I said 'what do y'all think?'
"'The zone's working coach, the zone's working.' So I knew if we went man-to-man I'd have a coup on my hands, so we stayed in a zone and they made it work."
All Manual starters scored in double figures, led by Kara Wright and Miss Basketball finalist April Wilson with 15 each. Lauren Bodine added 13. Kayla Styles and LeAsia Wright had 11 each. Kara Wright also grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked three shots.
Manual (36-2) had as many offensive rebounds (14) as Dunbar had on defense. Overall, the Crimsons dominated the boards 38-23.
After its 10-for-11 start, Dunbar shot 14-for-47 and finished at 41.4 percent.
Jordin Fender was top Dog with 14 points. Brooke Todd had 11 points and five rebounds. Lexus Edwards came off the bench to score 12 points.
Fender and Kierra Muhammad (seven points, six assists, four steals) hurt Manual early with their speed.
The Crimsons countered with good shooting, including a first-half 7-for-10 effort from three-point range.
"I told my assistants if we hadn't shot the ball well early, we would have been down 20 because they really came at us," Pendleton said. "They are hard to guard. Those guards are fast. Fast."
Manual's switch to a zone came as no surprise to Dunbar Coach Sarah Van Horn.
"We've seen zone all year but, with their size, we weren't able to penetrate the gaps as well as we have in the past," she said. "I think that bothered us, got us out of our comfort zone a little bit, and we stopped pushing the tempo as much with that zone."
Dunbar got no closer than six points in the second half.
No. 2 Marion Co. 61, No. 11 Lincoln Co. 40: Tied at 13 through one quarter, Lincoln was within 19-17 midway through the second quarter.
Marion closed the half with an 8-2 rush, then blew the game open with a 23-6 blitz in the third quarter.
"We started pounding the ball inside and made some easy baskets, and when we do that we can pick the pace up a little bit," Coach Trent Milby said.
Bre Elder fueled Marion's attack with 16 points and four assists. Makayla Epps had 12 points and three steals. Kyvin Goodin-Rogers had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Logan Powell led in rebounds with 11.
Emily Fox scored 19 for Lincoln (26-10). Kourtney Belcher had 10 points. Rachel Spangler led the Lady Patriots with eight rebounds but played only 13 minutes because of a twisted ankle.
Lincoln had 21 turnovers and shot 15-for-51 (29.4 percent).
"Sad to see us not to come out with a win today, but very, very proud of the young ladies that I got to coach and call my family," Coach Cassandra McWhorter said. "They have left everything on the floor this weekend."
■ Dunbar's Fender and Todd, along with Lincoln's Fox and Sydney Harris, were named to the all-tourney team.