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Owen County and Oldham County know how to play close games.
The previous two contests were decided in the final seconds. The Lady Colonels won in 2008 by two points on the final shot of the game while the Lady Rebels squeaked out a three-point win earlier this year in the closing seconds.
On March 3 in Crestwood, the two teams again squared off in a close encounter. On this night, both teams were looking to advance to the semifinals of the 8th Region Tournament.
Both teams looked to establish an inside presence early. The Lady Rebels held a 6-4 lead after one quarter. The Lady Colonels took their first lead of the game with three minutes left in the first half. Owen County managed to take an 18-15 lead into halftime after Eko Kemper stole the ball near midcourt and found Rianna Gayheart for a lay-up at the buzzer.
Both teams seemed to settle down in the third quarter. The Lady Colonels scored as many points in the quarter as they had scored in the entire first half.
Twice in the quarter it seemed like Owen County had the momentum. The Lady Rebels took a 24-20 lead with 4:20 left in the third only to see the Lady Colonels come right back and tie the game less than a minute later.
The Lady Rebels then ran off six straight points to take a 30-24 lead with 2:19 remaining in the third quarter. Oldham County answered with six consecutive points to tie the score heading into the fourth quarter.
Owen County took a 33-30 lead a minute into the final quarter when Kemper hit a 3-pointer. It was the only 3-pointer the Lady Rebels made that night.
Oldham County took advantage of Samantha Toole being on the bench with three fouls to get the ball inside. Brooke Leanhardt’s basket with 6:05 to play gave the Lady Colonels a brief 34-33 lead.
Neither team would score again until Kemper stole the ball and scored to give Owen County a 35-34 lead with 4:45 remaining. The score remained in Owen County’s favor until Emily Lape scored and was fouled to give Oldham County a 36-35 lead.
The two teams then exchanged turnovers until Toole scored to give Owen County a 37-36 lead with 2:22 left in the game.
The lead lasted for only 22 seconds as Lape again scored, giving Oldham County a 38-37 lead. It was an advantage the Lady Colonels did not give back.
The Lady Rebels couldn’t score on their next possession and Oldham County made one-of-two free throws to take a 39-37 lead with 90 seconds to play. Seconds later, the Lady Rebels had a chance to tie, but Toole connected on only one of two free throws to make the score 39-38.
The Lady Rebels seemed poised to regain the lead when Gayheart stole the ball and went for a lay-up with less than a minute to play. She didn’t convert the lay-up but many Owen County supporters believed she was fouled. There was no call on the play and Oldham County came down with the rebound.
Erika Harden drained a pair of free throws with 40 seconds to play, giving Oldham County a three-point advantage. Audri Beaudrie had a chance to put the Lady Colonels up by five with 32 seconds left but missed the front end of the one-and-one. Kemper scored seconds later to again bring Owen County to within one at 41-40.
Owen County fouled Beaudrie again but this time she sank both free throws to put Oldham County up 43-40 with 9.9 seconds left on the clock. Gayheart rushed the ball up the court and found Jensen Wainscott open on the right wing, but her 3-pointer was no good; and the Lady Rebels’ season came to an end.
The Lady Rebels can trace the loss back to their shooting from the field. Owen County connected on just 13 of 40 shots from the field and just one of eight from 3-point range. Oldham County shot 50 percent from the field as they made 14 of 28 shots.
Kemper led the way for Owen County with 13 points and eight rebounds. Gayheart finished the night with 12 points. Toole finished with nine points and nine rebounds. Wainscott, Emilie Davis and Lauren Lowe each finished with two points.
The Lady Rebels finish the season with a record of 19-8 for the season.
Simon Kenton defeated Oldham County on Friday night and Anderson County on Saturday night to win its second straight 8th Region Championship.