VERSAILLES — The Lincoln County girls’ basketball bus arrived here on time Monday. The team just lost its way.
The No. 13 Lady Patriots didn’t look like a state-ranked team in the road game, leaving a lot to be desired offensively as they fell 57-46 to Woodford County at The Hive.
Lincoln coach Cassandra McWhorter said the loss, which snapped a seven-game win streak, was just ‘ugly.’
“It was ugly start to finish,” she said. “Give Woodford County credit. They’ve got a lot of talented girls. They’ve got a lot of ability on their team.”
How ugly was it?
•Lincoln hit just 21 percent of its shots, going just 13-for-63 from the field.
•The team went the entire third quarter without a bucket.
•Lincoln experienced scoring droughts of three minutes and four minutes in the first and second periods.
•There was not one single Lady Patriot in double figures.
•Woodford outscored Lincoln 14-0 in the second-quarter scoring slump.
“They played us tough at our place last year so I knew coming up here tonight at their place that it wouldn’t be an easy game, especially if we didn’t come up here and shoot the ball well,” McWhorter said. “Bottom line tonight was, we did not shoot the ball well. We did not put the ball in the hole and, when the ball does not go in the hole, it makes everything else look ugly.”
Lincoln (21-5) was able to overcame a game-opening scoring slump to take the early lead. Sydney Harris hit from 3-point range 3 minutes, 50 seconds into the game to set off a 12-0 scoring run. Harris followed with a bucket off a steal, Ciara Saylor added her own 3-pointer and Kourtney Belcher scored off a Saylor assist. Emily Fox, who led Lincoln with nine points, added two free throws in the run to put the Lady Patriots up 12-2 with 2:50 to go in the first quarter.
Saylor added a second trey in the final minute, 50 seconds of the first, but Woodford (16-13) put up eight points to cut into the Lincoln lead. Hannah Morgan had five of the eight points off a 3-pointer and a field goal to make it 15-10.
Belcher opened the second-quarter scoring to put Lincoln up 17-10, but then the offense went cold. The Lady Patriots went scoreless for the next 4 minutes allowing the Lady Yellow Jackets to get things rolling and erase the lead.
Chelsey Ford, who had a game-high 20 points, ignited a 14-0 Woodford run with a three-point play. Shelby McDonald, who finished with 12 points, hit two layups in the run, Hannah Morgan and Jessica Morgan got a bucket apiece in the paint and Anastayzia Reed drained a 3-pointer to put the Lady Yellow Jackets on top to stay 26-19.
Chansler Gilbert finally put an end to the Lincoln scoring drought when she hit at the 3:22 mark of the second quarter. Belcher and Spencer Sims both hit jumpers late in the half and Belcher added a free throw toss to pull Lincoln back within 26-24, but Ford closed out the first-half scoring with two free throws to give Woodford a 28-24 edge at the break.
The Lady Yellow Jacket lead would be on the increase in the third quarter as the Lady Patriots’ field goal attempts, all 18 of them, missed their mark. Woodford, which shot 38 percent (19-for-50) from the field overall, went 5-for-14 in the third quarter, including 3-pointers from Caitlin Ferguson and Reed, to take a 42-33 lead into the fourth quarter.
Lincoln relied on the free throw line to keep Woodford from blowing open the game in the third quarter, sinking 9 of 13 free throw attempts.
But the Lincoln free throws, like the field goals, didn’t fall so well either, with the team going 17-for-27 overall at the line.
“We were getting to the free throw line but we couldn’t even get those to go in, and, when you can’t get your free throws to drop and get those to get you going, it’s just going to be a long night, a tough night. And that’s what it was,” McWhorter said. “We did what we wanted the second half. I mean, we were down, but I told the girls at the start of the fourth quarter, ‘One more foul and we’re in double bonus,’ but the free throws didn’t fall.”
Lincoln converted on 5 of 8 trips to the foul line in the fourth quarter and got slightly back on track from the field, hitting 4 of 19 shot attempts, but Woodford could not be caught. The Lady Yellow Jackets outpointed the Lady Patriots 15-13 in the fourth to secure the win.
“Woodford was a better team tonight,” McWhorter said. “They beat us and that’s the bottom line. Now, we’ve got to put it behind us and get ready for Senior Night Friday night and then tournament play starts next week.”
While disappointed with the loss, McWhorter said it’s something Lincoln can learn from.
“I told the girls that I don’t want to lose any time, but it might be just what the doctor ordered right before tournament time to get us awake and get our eyes open that it’s not going to be easy. Everybody’s going to bring their ‘A’ game and Woodford County brought it tonight. They shot the ball well and defended well, and we just couldn’t put it in the hole.”
Woodford was 15-for-26 overall at the free throw line.