SOMERSET — Randy Salyers never was overly concerned with his team’s record; the Casey County coach just wanted his squad to continue to get better as postseason approached.
Well, the Rebels seemed to be hitting their stride as they opened the 12th Region Tournament with a 62-38 win over Burgin at Pulaski County, setting up a semifinal matchup with Boyle County.
Led by 14 points apiece from Lakken Miller and Christin Terry, Casey (14-15) won its third straight game and fourth in five games.
“I told my girls even before the season started that this is probably the toughest schedule we’ve ever played. We caught about six or seven teams they had their best teams they had in a few years,” Salyers said. “So we weren’t concerned about our record, we were concerned about getting better.”
It was tight early as Casey led just 12-5 after the first quarter, but the Rebels started to put the game away midway through the second.
Tiara Cochran scored nine straight Casey points to give the Rebels a 21-10 lead with 3:54 left in the first half. Cochran, who came off the bench to score 11 points, started her run with a 3-pointer off a Burgin turnover, then had two straight layups off turnovers. After Summer Burke’s bucket for the Bulldogs, Cochran got inside to score again.
“The first half Jasmine (Johnson) and Katie Douglas had to go the bench with foul trouble, and Lakken may have even been on the bench then, so that hurt us a bit,” Salyers said. “But I thought Tiara Cochran came in and gave us a pretty good spurt. She came up big for us out there then.”
Sarah Beard’s 3-pointer gave Casey a 27-15 lead at the half.
Burgin (14-16) was just 4-for-13 from the field in the first half and finished 9-for-34 and made 16 of 25 free throws.
“We couldn’t buy a basket early. And we don’t score a point for seven minutes (to start the game). You can’t overcome those obstacles against a good team. We struggled throughout the night scoring. We missed countless layups and jumpers that normally fall,” Burgin coach Ray Daniels said.
“We played hard, and that’s all you can ask for. Sometimes the shots don’t fall and you’ve just got to overcome the adversity sometimes. It was just hard to do that tonight.”
The Rebels continued to pull away in the second half, going on a 9-2 run to lead 36-17.
Terry opened the spurt with two free throws and a putback, Douglas drilled a 3-pointer and Miller scored inside with 4:36 left in the quarter. Kayla Wilson’s layup made it 38-19 with 3:22 left, and it stayed that way until Liz Marcinek’s 3-pointer, the first Burgin bucket of the quarter, cut the lead to 38-22 heading to the fourth. The Bulldogs would never get closer.
Casey finished 24 of 53 from the field and made nine of 22 3-point shots but went just 5 of 12 at the line.
The one thing Salyers was upset about was the early foul trouble his team got into, because he knows it could cost him in the future.
“That was top of the list as one of our goals during the game, play good defense without fouling,” he said. “The first time we played them (a 63-46 win Feb. 14) I think they shot 30-something free throws. I still felt like we fouled too much in certain situations.”
12th Region Tournament
At Pulaski County
Burgin 5 15 22 38
Casey County 12 27 38 62
BURGIN (14-16) — Summer Burke 13, Randi Burke 2, Liz Marcinek 7, Libby Dismeaux 3, Taylor Sanders 13.
CASEY (14-15) — Jasmine Johnson 6, Katie Douglas 5, Lakken Miller 14, Christin Terry 14, Sarah Beard 3, Tiara Cochran 11, Brooke Snow 7, Kayla Wilson 2.