After being on their heels for much of the first half, the West Jessamine Lady Colts turned the tables on the Lexington Christian Lady Eagles after halftime Friday and nearly pulled an upset.
But the Lady Eagles played stall-ball in the fourth quarter and took care of business from the foul line, winning 55-47.
“I knew they were going to start trying to hold the ball, but I didn’t think they’d start doing it with six minutes left in the game,” West coach Stephen Greene said. “My girls knows how that works; when a team is up on the road, they’re going to try to hold the ball and make us foul them.”
The stall tactic forced West to foul LCA, and the Lady Eagles responded by going 7-of-12 in the final quarter. LCA finished 16-of-26 for the game; West knocked down 11-of-17 foul shots in the game.
LCA opened the game by jumping out to an 8-2 lead.
For much of the first half, LCA’s full-court press proved troublesome for the Lady Colts, as the visitors built a 16-6 lead following a three-pointer by Katelin Bundy early in the second quarter.
Throughout the second quarter, LCA held a double-digit lead and led by as many as 14 at 28-14 following a bucket by Carah Burdette.
From there, West Jessamine began to neutralize the press and started converting on opportunities. Over the final three minutes of the half, West outscored LCA 10-5. The run was spurred by four foul shots by Katelyn Quillen and a pair of buckets by Shelby Hawkins.
Greene said once West figured out LCA’s press, it was the Lady Eagles who started to play defensively.
“LCA dictated things in the first half with their press,” Greene said. “It gave us a little bit of trouble, and we didn’t capitalize on some of our opportunities in the first half. We were able to get through the press, which caused them to pull it off after halftime.”
After the break, West turned up the intensity and quickly cut the nine-point deficit to one following a jumper by Rachel Monell, prompting a LCA timeout.
West’s momentum continued following the timeout when Ashlee Rose found Hawkins with a long distance pass that Hawkins converted into a layup, giving West’s its only lead of the night at 39-38.
“After halftime, we came out with a sense of urgency and really determined to score and do well, and we ended up taking the lead on them,” Greene said.
At that point, LCA began to assert itself on the foul line, as the Lady Eagles finished the third quarter by knocking down five free throws, coupled with a bucket by Burdette.
West continued to be the aggressor in the final quarter, coming up with three steals, including a theft by Rose, who converted it into two points with a layup, cutting the LCA lead to 48-45 with 3:42 left in the game.
“We forced a couple jump balls, but we couldn’t capitalize on those opportunities,” Greene said.
From there, LCA stalled and sealed the game from the foul line.
Hawkins led West with 14 points. Rose finished with 12, while Quillen added six.
LCA was paced by Bundy’s game-high 19 points, while Burdette finished with 9.
The game also marked the final home game for seniors Kendall Anderson, Emma Baxter, Hawkins, Rebekah Hulsing (who has been out for the year with an injury), Allison Mims, Hannah Parsons and Quillen.
Greene said the group has been together for a long time and they’ve meant a lot to the program.
“This group has been here since they were sixth-graders,” he said. “They are a really great group.”
Next up for West Jessamine is a 46th District tournament match-up against Mercer County. The game will be played at East Jessamine High School on Tuesday at 6 p.m.