By Nancy LeedyBOWLING GREEN — Emily Fox scored a game-high 23 points to help Lincoln defeat Magoffin County 72-59 in the Girls Sweet Sixteen quarterfinals and earn a spot in Saturday’s Final Four.“What another ballgame. This is what the state tournament is about,” Lincoln coach Cassandra McWhorter said. “I’m proud of the girls. I challenged them, and I told them nobody remembers the Elite Eight, but everyone remembers the Final Four.”Fox, a junior guard, scored nine of her 23 points in the fourth quarter as the Lady Patriots went on a 13-2 run to pull away from the Lady Hornets and advance to the semifinal round.“I knew that I had to step up and be a leader and get the ball to the open people and penetrate whenever it’s open,“ said Fox, who also had five rebounds eight assists and two steals. “We knew they only played six, so we just had to pass the ball and wear them down.“We’re the first (Lincoln) team to go to the final four, so it feels pretty good.”The Lady Patriots (26-9) were clinging to a 45-44 lead early in the fourth before they broke on their big run. Fox opened the run with a driving layup and Sydney Harris, who had 14 points and nine rebounds, followed with a jump shot. Fox then hit for her second of three layups in the run before nailing a 3-point goal to extend Lincoln’s lead to 56-46. Harris closed the run with another jump shot to make it 58-46 with 3:42 to play.“This is a marathon, not a sprint. We have to make it a full game,” said McWhorter. “Our depth has helped us tremendously. I knew they only play five or six players, and I think that got to them in the fourth quarter.”Magoffin (29-5) got within 58-50 with just under three minutes to play off two free throws from Madison Reed and 64-58 with 1:36 showing off two free throws from Morgan Arnett.Magoffin got no closer. Lincoln closed the game on an 8-1 run to secure the win. Rachel Spangler had a layup in the final 1:34, Ciara Saylor, who finished with 11 points and four steals, and Spencer Sims each went 2-for-2 at the foul line and Fox and Heidi Huffman had one free throw toss apiece.The Lady Patriots led after every quarterstop, beginning with an 18-11 first quarter. Lincoln opened the first with a 14-4 run, ignited by a field goal and 3-point goal from Saylor. Fox added four points in the run, Spangler and Harris each had two points and Kourtney Belcher added a free throw. Lincoln had just taken a 24-15 lead off a Tiandra Hocker layup in the second quarter when Magoffin began to fight its way back in with a 7-0 run. Jamie Castle capped off the run with a three-point play with 4:30 to go in the half to cut the Lincoln lead to 24-22.But the Lady Hornets weren’t finished. A Fox free throw made it 25-22 but Jasmine Howard, who led Magoffin with 21 points, scored inside and Castle got a steal and layup to push the Lady Hornets up 26-25 with 3:46 left in the first half. Lincoln regained the lead before the break, though, with Fox bombing in a 3-point shot from the right corner for a 28-26 lead. Sims collected a jump shot in the final two minutes then Chansler Gilbert drained a 3-pointer to put Lincoln up 33-29 at the break.Magoffin’s Castle hit two baskets early in the third and Reed added a jump shot to deadlock the game at 35 with 5:34 to play in the quarter. However, Lincoln retook the lead for good before the end of the third. Harris scored off a turnover in the last 1:44 and Fox followed with a driving layup to put the Lady Patriots up 45-40 going into the final frame.Magoffin’s lineup took a hit before Lincoln broke on its decision run, with Castle turning her ankle with 3:17 to play in the third. The Lady Hornet guard, who finished with 18 points, returned to action in the fourth but did not score. “I think that did hurt them. She was their best player,” Harris said.Lincoln shot 51 percent for the game, connecting on 15 of 28 shots from the field, five of 11 from 3-point range. The Lady Pats were 11 of 24 at the foul line.Magoffin shot 43 percent overall, going 19-for-44, 0-for-4 from 3. The Lady Hornets made 21 of 25 free throws.
Fox gets 23 points in 72-59 win over Magoffin
EMILY FOX drives in for two of her 23 points in the win over Magoffin.