Lady Rebels fall in semifinals

-A A +A
By Brian Blair

A trip to the Eighth Region finals was in their grasp.
The Owen County High School Lady Rebels trailed Walton-Verona by 7 points early in the third quarter of Saturday’s eighth region semifinal at Anderson County.
They would storm back and take a 37-36 lead in the fourth quarter and would extend the lead to 42-39 midway through the final eight minutes.
Twice, the Lady Rebels had chances to extend the lead. Twice, they came up empty.
With 1:34 to play in the game, Walton-Verona’s Kara Taulbee stepped back and drained a 3-pointer to give the Lady Bearcats a 44-42 advantage. It was the senior’s only basket of the game but it was a big one as it would give her team a lead they would not give back.
Seconds later, Rianna Gayheart would make one of two free throws to draw the Lady Rebels to within 1 point at 44-43. After two free throws by Walton-Verona’s Michele Judy extended the lead to 46-43, Owen County would give the ball right back as senior Jenalee Ginn stole the ball all but sealing the Lady Rebels’ fate.
The Lady Bearcats would make free throws in the closing seconds to make the final score 55-47. The score however doesn’t indicate just how close the game was.
Owen County High School Head Girls Basketball Coach Bob Osborne knows his team had its chances.
“We had the opportunity,” Osborne said.“We just didn’t grab hold of it.”
Owen County advanced to the semifinals by defeating Oldham County 51-34 in the quarterfinals behind a 20-point effort from Gayheart. The senior also added six steals and five assists in the win.
Courtney Waldrop finished with 13 points and six rebounds in a game that saw the Lady Rebels get off to a slow start before pulling away for the victory. Kennedi Dermon and Shelby Gambrell each added 5 points while Hannah Neeley and Meredith Marston both had 2 points.
Walton-Verona advanced to the semifinals by knocking off Collins 51-42.
The game was delayed by a day as the threat of severe weather Friday forced officials to move the semifinals to Saturday afternoon. The move turned out to be a good one as storms and tornadoes affected much of Kentucky Friday afternoon and evening.
Owen County trailed 14-10 at the end of the first quarter Saturday and found themselves down by 6 points early in the second quarter when Osborne called a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Neeley buried a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 16-13.
Walton-Verona would lead 18-15 with 2:39 to play in the first half when Gayheart drove to the basket and drew a foul. Taking exception to the call, Lady Bearcat Head Coach Mark Clinkenbeard was whistled for a technical foul.
Gayheart would make all four free throws to give Owen County a 19-18 lead. The Lady Bearcats would respond and score the final 6 points of the half to take a 24-19 lead into the break.
Walton-Verona would come out in the second half and extend the lead to 30-23 with 5:02 to play in the third quarter.
The Lady Rebels would rally back thanks to the hot hand of Dermon who scored 8 points in the third quarter to rally the Lady Rebels.
The Owen County girls were hoping to advance to the eighth-region finals for the first time since 2002.
Instead, they saw their season end in the semifinals for the second year in a row.
Gayheart closed out her outstanding career by leading Owen County Saturday with 19 points, six rebounds, five steals and three assists. Dermon finished with 14 points and Neeley had 8 points. Gambrell, Gamble and Waldrop each added 2 points.
For their efforts, Gayheart and Dermon were named to the all-tournament team.
Owen County finishes the season 24-7. The loss ended an incredible two-year run that saw Owen County win 47 games and lose just 13 times.
Osborne said the last two seasons have been very exciting.
“We have a good tradition,” the coach said. “Our girls come here expecting to win.”
With the win, Walton-Verona advanced to Sunday’s championship game where they defeated South Oldham 52-47 to claim its second-straight eighth region championship. They will advance to the Sweet Sixteen in Bowling Green this week where they will take on Marion County from the fifth region.