This year marks the fourth time that I have been to the girls state tournament, and it also marks the fourth straight time that the Breathitt County Lady Kats have been there. In the previous three, the Lady Kats had only made it out of the first round once.
Last night, Breathitt County was hoping to get out of that slump when they faced off with the Rowan County Lady Vikings.
Now, as always there were several story lines that took place during the game, and some were more obvious than others. Lets start with one of the more obvious. Breathitt County came out to a slow start which saw them trailing 11-2 with 3:13 left in the first quarter. In the first stanza, the Lady Kats were outscored 18-7. That is the quarter that hurt them because for the remainder of the game, Breathitt Couny outscored Rowan County 9-8 and 11-8 in quarters two and three. The fourth quarter, even though the Lady Kats were able to cut the lead to four points, 36-32. The lady Vikings were just too much outscoring Breathitt 13-12.
Kendall Noble played the role of usual suspect for Breathitt County as she led the way with 21 points, with no one else reaching double figures. But here is the number that stood out the most for me.
As I was shooting the game, I realized that one of their other scoring threats had yet to score in the game. When I realized this, we were already in the 4th quarter. Junior Kristen Bowen was held to zero points in the game. But it was not for a lack of effort as Bowen was 0-8 from behind the arc.
Now, when you look at Breathitt's outside shooting during the game, it definitely left much to be desired as they were a mere 2-22 from behind the three point line.
Here was the other thing I was watching throughout the game. Eden Keeton's emotions were getting the best of her, as she had to battle hard in the paint all night long. Not only that, but she also had to battle a right knee injury that seemed to be giving her trouble as well. Keeton finished with 6 points, and an amazing 15 boards, but only shot 30 percent from the floor.
However Breathitt County fell to Rowan County 47-39.
Over to the Clay County game. The Lady Tigers came away with the 70-55 win over Anderson County but did it in a impressive fashion. Yes, Clay County did had a 20 point lead at one point to only see it evaporate to 8, but they were able to stick to their bread and butter all game long.
Clay County, unlike Breathitt, was 1-1 from behind the arc. But, they had no reason to shoot from the outside, because their inside game was dominate. Of there 70 points (which is the highest point total of the tournament so far), 40 of them were in the paint, and even better, 21 points were off of turnovers.
But back to the post play. Whitney Belle Jackson finished with 12 points and 9 boards, Jordan Phillips finished with 7 points and 8 boards, but it was the play of Morgan Chestnut that may have surprised many who have not seen much of Clay County down the stretch.
Let me start by saying that Clay County over the last couple of years have seemed to find a way to get stellar play out of the younger girls when the time is right. Last year, Sabrina Smith came out of no where in the postseason and shined in the spotlight of E.A. Diddle Arena last year. Now this year, the sames to be happening once again this year.
To put things in perspective, Morgan Chestnut averaged two and a half points per game during the regular season. However, in the postseason, Chestnut dropped 18 points versus OBI, 7 versus Lynn Camp, 10 versus South Laurel, and then 13 under the watchful eyes of everyone at the state tournament. She also added four boards, in only 8 minutes and 23 seconds of time, as that performance earned her player of the game honors.
Lately Morgan has been playing like a wily veteran, but can you blame her playing along side post players the like of Jackson and Phillips? Just about anyone would feel comfortable playing with them.
Clay was able to pound it i the paint time and time again and that was their biggest key to victory on Day 1.