Prep Basketball: Casey rallies, but overtime loss in regional final still 'stinks'
Casey County's Sarah Beard, right, battled Lincoln County's Kelsi Honaker (10) and Rachel Spangler (23) for a loose ball Tuesday. It was that kind of effort that made Casey coach Randy Salyers "proud" of the effort his team gave in the overtime loss. (Clay Jackson / Clay Jackson / January 23, 2013)
That heartbreak was evident on the faces of Casey County players who had been put through the emotional wringer in the closest 12th Region Tournament championship game in more than a decade.
And the sting of defeat might have been made a little more painful because they rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second half to take the lead in the final minute of regulation, only to see Lincoln pull out a 56-54 win in overtime at Pulaski County.
They were acutely aware that any of several plays that turned out differently might have meant that they would have been the ones taking home the trophy.
“It’s really tough, especially with a loss like this that went into overtime,” said guard Jasmine Johnson, one of Casey’s two seniors. “We played our hardest, it just stinks that it didn’t have a better outcome like I wanted it to.”
Beneath the postgame pain, however, there was also a sense of pride in the work the Rebels had done to give themselves a chance to win.
Casey fell behind 24-10 in the second quarter and was still down 35-22 midway through the third period. But the Rebels outscored Lincoln 22-7 over a span of 10 minutes, 41 seconds to take their first lead at 44-42 with 56 seconds remaining.
“I think it just shows how much pride we have in Casey County and how much we trust each other as a team to come back and fight through all the tough calls and all the tough shots that we missed and the rebounds that we didn’t get,” guard Lakken Miller said. “I think it shows how much of a team that we are.”
Casey’s lead was short-lived, as Lincoln tied the game 14 seconds later, and it went to overtime after officials ruled that a layup by Christin Terry that would have broken the tie came just after time expired.
Terry fielded a long pass after a steal by Cochran when Lincoln was trying for a final shot and drove to the basket unabated. One official ruled that Terry’s shot was too late, and that call was upheld after the three officials huddled briefly.
Casey coaches and players protested, but coach Randy Salyers didn’t comment on the call after the game.
“I felt like Christin’s shot should have counted, and we had fouls that weren’t called,” Miller said. “I just feel like we were right there, and it didn’t happen.”
The Rebels’ 49-47 lead in the extra period didn’t last long, either; the Patriots went in front with 1:56 to play and stayed there.
It was the third straight year that Casey has lost in the regional finals, and this was by far the closest of the three losses .
“You tell us at the beginning of this tournament that we’re going to have a chance to win in regulation, and I’ll take that,” Salyers said.
The Rebels certainly would have taken in the second quarter, when the shots weren’t falling and Lincoln was pulling away. There didn’t seem to be much chance of a comeback then, but Johnson said she was doing her best to keep her teammates focused.
“Whenever we started getting down, I still had faith and I still tried to calm the girls down, because I knew we still had a chance,” she said. “I just tried to keep them motivated and their spirits up so we could do it because I knew we could. That’s what they did, and I’m just so proud of them.”
Salyers said he’s proud, too.
“I don’t have to worry about their character on the floor or off the floor,” he said. “We have a very good group of kids. It’s a pleasure to coach this group.”