The Marshall County Lady Marshals survived one drought then ended another, picking up a 56-52 win over Letcher County Central on Thursday in the opening round of the Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girls' Sweet 16 at E.A. Diddle Arena.
Marshall County (27-9) went nine minutes without a point, but rallied in the fourth quarter to snap a seven-game losing streak in the Sweet 16. It was the first win in school history in Diddle Arena for the Lady Marshals, who were making their 21st appearance in the tournament, which includes winning state titles in 1982 and 1984.
"It's an amazing feeling," Marshall County senior guard Taylor Meadows said. "As a senior, it's definitely a good feeling to know my season isn't over. It's also good to know that Marshall County has never gotten past the first game since (the state tournament) has been moved to Diddle Arena. I just felt like we left our legacy here. It's always going to be something we will remember."
Marshall County trailed 7-2 before Mariah McKenty scored eight points during a 16-2 run that gave the Lady Marshals an 18-9 lead late in the first quarter.
The lead grew to 25-13 after a steal and layup from McKenty with 5:55 left in the half.
Letcher County Central (29-6) chipped away and closed the half with six straight points to make the score 31-27.
Marshall County's scoring drought extended into the third quarter, allowing the Lady Cougars to surge ahead.
Cheyanne Stidham's 3 cut the deficit to 31-30. Julie Cornett's three-point play gave Letcher County the lead and Stidham's second 3 of the quarter made the score 36-31 with 3:20 left in the period.
Kelah Eldridge's bucket capped a 17-0 run before Alex Brown hit two free throws to end a nine minute scoring drought for Marshall County.
"I wasn't really worried," McKenty said. "I knew we just needed to get one offensive score. Once we got that we would start playing our game again."
That helped swing the momentum back to the Lady Marshals. Marshall County scored the first five points in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 40-40 with 6:40 left.
The teams traded baskets over the next three minutes until Marshall County took a 48-46 lead on a baseline jumper from McKenty. Alyssa Barnard added two free throws on the next possession to extend the lead to four points.
Letcher County Central got as close as 53-52 after a layup from Eldridge with 30 seconds left. McKenty split a pair of free throws to give the Lady Cougars one more chance. Eldridge got a look on a runner in the lane with 10 seconds left, but her shot hit off the side of the backboard.
"I've been doing this a long time," Letcher County Central coach William Adams said. "When my leading scorer has the ball and they are back pedaling running down the court, I will take my chances. If I call a timeout, (McKenty) is in her shorts. Yeah, sure, the way it turned out I didn't do a very good job. That ball goes or in or they foul her and she gets to the free-throw line, I look like a brain surgeon."
Marshall County secured the rebound and McKenty hit two free throws to seal the win.
Meadows led Marshall County with 18 points, while McKenty added 17 points.
"These girls never quit," Marshall County coach Joseph Simmons said. "I've got a great group of kids. They are easy to coach because they work so hard."
Eldridge had 17 points to lead Letcher County Central. Cornett added 16 points and Stidham finished with 15 points.
Marshall County advances to face Notre Dame at 8 p.m. today.
LCCHS 11 16 13 12 – 52MCHS 18 13 4 21 – 56LCC – Cornett 16, Stidham 15, Eldridge 17, Breeding 2, Bentley 2MCHS – Greer 8, Meadows 18, McKenty 17, Fehrenbacher 3, Brown 2, Reed 2, Barnard 6
Notre Dame 57, Madison Central 53, OT
The Pandas let a 14-point second-half lead slip away and survived a last-second shot from Miss Basketball candidate Larryn Brooks at the end of regulation before sealing the win by scoring the final five points in overtime.
"We had a big lead in the second half, but in tournament play, teams aren't going to let up," Notre Dame coach Nicole Levandusky said. "I'm proud of my girls. They never quit and they kept fighting."
Notre Dame (27-5) controlled most of the first half, building a 21-11 lead after a jumper from Haylee Smith midway through the second quarter.
The Lady Indians closed the half with a 7-2 surge to trim the deficit to 23-18. Brooks hit two free throws 18 seconds into the second half to make it a three-point game, before Notre Dame used an 11-3 run to build a 37-23 lead late in the third quarter.
Madison Central (29-5) came roaring back, outscoring the Pandas 17-2 to take a 40-39 lead after two Feldhaus free throws with 4:46 left.
Notre Dame responded with five straight, including a 3 from Elly Ogle to take a 44-40 lead, but the Lady Indians scored the next five to regain the advantage.
After an Ogle 3 made the score 47-45, Brooks tied it on a runner in the lane with 1:55 remaining.
Notre Dame's Smith missed a jumper to give the ball back to Madison Central with 1:48 left. The Lady Indians ran the clock down some, before Smith gave MCHS the lead on a drive through the paint with 27 seconds left.
Smith tied the score on a layup with 19.6 seconds remaining and Brooks' 15-foot jumper was short in the final seconds, sending the game to overtime.
Notre Dame scored first in the extra period, but Brooks answered with a 3 to give Madison Central a 52-51 lead.
Carlee Clemons hit a free throw to tie the score, but Brooks answered with a free throw on the other end to make the score 53-52.
Notre Dame regained the lead on a putback from Clemons with 28 seconds left. Brooks' runner in the lane rolled off and Notre Dame pushed its lead to 56-53 after Sydney Stallman hit two free throws with 18.7 remaining.
Madison Central didn't get a shot off and the Pandas got one free throw to ice it with 8.7 seconds left.
"These kids got after it," Madison Central coach Robert Cooksey said. "It's one of those games where, you hit a free throw or get an offensive rebound or a 50/50 ball and maybe the outcome is different. I know it says it is a four-point game but everybody sitting and watching knows it wasn't a four-point game. It was a game we had a chance to win with about 30 seconds to go. We just weren't able to do it."
Olivia Voskuhl led Notre Dame with 14 points, while Paige Kellam added 13 points. Smith finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Feldhaus led Madison Central with 26 points. Brooks added 19 points, but finished 5 for 24 from the field.
"Defense has been our strong suit all year," Levandusky said. "As the year progressed, it got better and better for us. (Brooks) is a great player. You just hope to contain her and not let her have a breakout game."
Notre Dame will face Marshall County at 8 p.m. today in the final quarterfinal game of the day.
NDHS 12 11 16 10 8 – 57
MCHS 11 7 12 19 4 – 53
NDHS – Clemons 7, Smith 10, Ogle 9, Voskuhl 14, Kellam 13, Stallman 4
MCHS – Feldhaus 26, Hinkle 5, Bosley 3, Brooks 19