WC girls bounce back for district win

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By Brandon Mattingly



Bethlehem @ Washington County
61-42 Washington County
When: Friday, Dec. 14
Where: Washington County High School
Key players: BHS - MacKenzie Hagan WCHS - Kenya Turner, Jennifer Keene
Game highlights: The Washington County (4-3) girls’ basketball team used a big second half to take a 61-42 win over Bethlehem (3-3) on Friday night, claiming a firm grasp of second place in the 19th District in the process.

The win took Washington County to 3-1 in the district standings, a half-game behind 3-0 Nelson County, who handed the Commanderettes their lone district loss earlier in the week.

The Banshees gave WC opportunities to break the game open early with turnovers on four-straight possessions, but the Commanderettes were unable to capitalize and Bethlehem kept the score tied at nine midway through the quarter. WC, however, went on a 7-0 run to turn the momentum and held a 19-11 lead through the first quarter thanks to a three-pointer at the buzzer by freshman Lexi Thompson.

“I think it was a lack of concentration,” Smalley said of his team’s early troubles taking advantage of Bethlehem mistakes. “We had the turnovers, but the whole first half we were a step behind.”

The second quarter, however, belonged to the Banshees, outscoring Washington County 17-8 behind nine points from junior MacKenzie Hagan and seven from junior Addie Alm on their way to a 28-27 lead at halftime. Washington County’s offense struggled to find scoring opportunities in the quarter and were kept off the board for nearly four minutes before senior Kenya Turner got an easy basket inside with 4:15 to play.

With Bethlehem leading 30-29 early in the third quarter, the Commanderettes reeled off 11 unanswered points to take a 10-point lead that they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way. Smalley said his team was executing in the second half.

“We started finishing,” he said. “Turner was finishing inside and give Nic (Brizendine) and Riquel (Logan) credit for getting her the ball.”

Already with a double-digit lead to start the final period, Washington County broke off another 11-0 run to take their largest lead of the game at 59-36 and end any hope of a Banshee comeback. Turner posted 10 of her game-high 32 points (to go with 14 reounds) in the final period, and freshman Taylor Eldridge, who got the start, pitched in all seven of her points in the fourth quarter.

Behind Turner, junior Jennifer Keene added 15 points and 10 boards. Hagan and Alm led the way for Bethlehem with 13 points each.

Nelson County @ Washington County
56-27 Nelson County
When: Tuesday, Dec. 11
Where: Washington County High School
Key players: NCHS  - Cierra Drake WCHS - Kenya Turner, Jennifer Keene
Game highlights: The Commanderettes took their first district loss of the season last Tuesday at home against Nelson County (5-3) in lopsided fashion, 56-27.

Washington County looked up to the challenge of hanging with the defending 19th District champions in the first half, battling back and forth with the Lady Cardinals midway through the second quarter.

However, the Lady Cardinals  -- led by senior Cierra Drake’s 18 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocks – pulled away late in the first half and into the third quarter for a convincing victory to remain undefeated in the district.
Smalley said he was disappointed with his team’s effort, but that it won’t be a concern going forward.

“I thought the kids actually gave up that game and it kind of surprised me,” he said. “We competed for 13 minutes, but you’ve got to compete for 32 minutes.”

The Commanderettes were led by Turner and Keene with nine points each, followed by Logan’s five.

Washington County’s next game is on Thursday against Mercer County (3-3) in the Food Pantry Holiday Classic at Campbellsville High School at 5:30 p.m.