High School Basketball

Girls' Sweet Sixteen: Covington Holy Cross takes state title

Covington Holy Cross' Cessie Mayhaus (32) pulled up for a shot as Beth Robinson (left) and UK commit Morgan Rich closed in.
Covington Holy Cross' Cessie Mayhaus (32) pulled up for a shot as Beth Robinson (left) and UK commit Morgan Rich closed in. AP

BOWLING GREEN — Abby Hassert picked a fine time for her only points of the game Sunday.

Hassert drove down the lane and put in the winning basket, plus a free throw, with 5.5 seconds left to vault Covington Holy Cross to a 35-32 victory over Allen County-Scottsville in the Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girls' Sweet Sixteen championship game.

"I knew I had to do something," said Hassert, a 5-foot-10 senior. "I knew that we had to get the ball to somebody to score and I saw the lane wide open, and I knew I had to take it."

An E.A. Diddle Arena crowd of 5,335 roared.

After mutltiple timeouts, Allen County-Scottsville had a last shot to tie. But Morgan Rich's long three-point try from near her team bench hit off the backboard and rim.

"We got exactly what we wanted," Patriots Coach Brad Bonds said. "We got Morgan in the right spot for the shot. We threw it up to Savannah (Gregory), who threw it to Morgan. It was perfect. It was executed great. We got the shot we wanted."

Holy Cross (33-3), out of the 9th Region, ended the season on a 22-game winning streak.

The Indians, with a school enrollment of 406, also won the All "A" title back on Feb. 1. They are the fourth team ever to sweep the KHSAA and All "A" titles in the same season, joining Nicholas County (1993) Hazard (1997) and Lexington Christian (2007).

"It doesn't matter the size. It really doesn't matter the size," said Deja Turner, who led Holy Cross with 13 points and five rebounds, and who was named tourney MVP. "We came in here against some big, big teams. We knocked off some very big teams, and we came through and we pulled it out twice."

Ally Mayhaus added 10 points for the winners.

Holy Cross also beat the Patriots on Dec. 22, 61-54 in Lexington.

In the Sweet Sixteen, Holy Cross opened with a 51-33 win over Bell County, then edged top-rated Elizabethtown 41-40. In the semifinals, the Indians beat Male 47-37.

Allen County-Scottsville (30-5), the 4th Region champion, had an eight-game winning streak snapped.

"Bottom line, they made a big-time play. A big-time play," Bonds said. "And that's what the State Tournament's all about is kids and very high quality basketball teams going at it, and unfortunately we came out on the short end of the stick. But a lot of credit to them. I thought it was two outstanding basketball teams battling on both ends."

Rich, a 5-10 University of Kentucky recruit, led all scorers with 20 points. She also had three rebounds and two assists.

Gregory was the next-highest ACS scorer with five. She and Holly Robinson grabbed seven rebounds each,

Holy Cross Coach Kes Murphy, whose sister Donna was Kentucky's first Miss Basketball in 1976, credited the championship to a killer schedule that had his team well prepared for Sunday.

The game was tied 18-18 at halftime, with ACS holding a 12-3 advantage in rebounds. Robinson has six of those.

But Holy Cross had a 9-0 edge in point off turnovers.

The Indians led 27-24 through three quarters.

In a game that saw seven ties and six lead changes, the Patriots took their final lead, 32-31, when Rich hit two of three free throws with 2:29 left.

A Mayhaus free throw at 1:09 tied the score.

With the Patriots patiently looking for a game-winning shot, Holy Cross point guard Dajah McClendon picked Rich's pocket with 32 seconds left.

"I just knew I had to get up and get one for my team," McClendon said. "We needed that."

Holy Cross took a timeout at 19.6, which led to Hassert's game-winning play.

"She'd better make it," Murphy said he thought at the time of the drive. "And you know what, she's not an offensive player. For what we need. But we know she can play, we know she can make passes and for her to finish and give us this, it means every thing."

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