Ryan Browning, the girl’s basketball coach at Campbell County High School, may as well have been talking to a brick wall in the locker room Saturday night at Knox Halls.
His players certainly couldn’t hear him. They were too busy whooping and hollering in joyous celebration of their 67-55 triumph over No. 2 seed Powell in the semifinals of the District 3-AAA Tournament.
The Lady Cougars (19-10 overall), who split with the Lady Panthers during the regular season, took command of the game with an 18-0 run early in the second half. Star guard Jessica Moore polished off the victory by scoring 11 of her team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter.
It was the seventh win in a row for the Lady Cougars, who advanced to Tuesday night’s championship game against Oak Ridge.
“That’s probably the most fired up I’ve seen them after a game,” said Browning.
“I was trying to talk to them, but they couldn’t hear me. It makes me wonder what would happen if we win this thing on Tuesday.”
Campbell County led 17-11 at the close of the opening quarter before Powell began to rally. The game was tied three times during the second period. The Lady Panthers took a 28-27 lead on Jill Herman’s two free throws with 15.4 left. Sophomore post Maria Foust nudged the Lady Cougars in front, 29-28, at halftime when she hit a jumper from the foul line with eight seconds to go.
Herman had 14 points at halftime but was in foul trouble along with two other Powell starters. That proved to be a crucial factor down the stretch.
The Lady Cougars blew the game wide open by scoring the first 18 points of the second half to take a 47-28 lead. Much of that came with subs in the game for Campbell County.
“When you can extend the lead with four of the five starters out, that’s a real good sign,” said Browning.
“Seems like we usually come out real flat in the third quarter.”
The Lady Panthers finally regained their composure with a 6-0 run at the end of the third quarter.
After sitting out much of the second half, Herman reentered the game to score 12 of her game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter. Powell got within seven, 57-50, inside of the two-minute mark. However, that’s as close as the Lady Panthers would get. With Moore’s leadership, Campbell County ended the game with a 10-5 run.
Sophomore point guard Courtney Morris chipped in 13 points for the Lady Cougars. Post players Candice Seiber, Maria Foust, Shayla Goins and Amber Young finished with eight, seven, six and two points, respectively. Lindsay Evans and Kristin Chapman contributed seven and four points, respectively, from the wings. The tournament victory more than made up for a loss at Powell earlier this year.
“We thought we let one get away from us when we played over there,” said Browning.
“It seemed like we were always one pass away from getting a good look (at the basket), and we just threw (the ball) away. Herman does a good job of getting to the free throw line. We didn’t let them get a lot of fast-break points.”
Two nights earlier, Campbell County opened tournament play with a 58-43 win over the Hardin Valley Academy. Moore also scored 20 points in the game, half of them, including a pair of 3-pointers, in the fourth quarter alone.
Seiber added 16 points, followed by Foust with 11, Morris seven, Evans and Young two each. Tiffany Cantrell and Kristen Lane led Hardin Valley with 15 and 11 points, respectively.
The Lady Cougars helped themselves out by making 15 of their 17 foul shots.
“Seems like the first night you put more pressure on yourself, because you know it could end that night,” said Browning.
“I’ve not really been harping on it a lot. I’ve been trying to show them their percentages. Courtney (Morris) and Kristin (Chapman) have really raised their free throw percentage.”
Campbell County split with Powell and Hardin Valley during the regular season, so beating both teams during the tournament gave the Lady Cougars reason to be optimistic going into the district final against Oak Ridge. Campbell County’s last appearance in the league championship game was in 2006, when the Lady Cougars lost a close one to Powell.
“At Hardin Valley, we did a terrible job on the boards, so rebounding was the key against them in the tournament,” said Browning.
“In the tournament game against Powell, it was about limiting their fast-break. Both teams we played (Powell) this year and last year, it was close.”