The Henry County girls basketball team sent its three seniors out with a bang in a 59-22 victory over rival Eminence on Monday, Feb. 13.
“It was a good first half and you kind of let go of the rope in the second half. They hit seven, eight threes in the second half. That was kind of the difference,” said Eminence head coach Joshua Keene.
Henry County led 14-5 after one quarter of action. The energy of senior night was evident early in the game, as senior forward Ashlyn Tingle scored the first nine points of the game for the Lady Cats down low.
“Ashlyn made an immediate impact with 18 and 14,” said Henry County head coach Jim Hook. “She also changes the game on both ends by limiting their drives to the basket with her presence. The biggest impact she makes though is leadership and allowing to run our offense through her in the high post.”
As a team, Henry County dominated the paint in the first half and earned numerous offensive rebounds with its height advantage.
““We were very excited to get so many people involved last night and we got back to defending the way we need to. We out-rebounded them 50-25 and we got to the paint at will. We stress what we call "paint touches" on offense, and we more than doubled Eminence in that stat,” said Hook.
Kennedy Brown stayed aggressive as well, earning a layup with contact to put the Lady Cats ahead 11-2. Madeline Lay hit her first three of the evening to push the lead to 14-3 before Brooklyn Smith drained a jumper to pull Eminence back within nine heading into the second period.
The Warriors cut the advantage to seven on a floater from Victoria Spiegl at the beginning of the second quarter. Spiegl had five points in the period, but she also remained active on defense, picking up a block on a three from Kennedy Brown and a layup later in the game, as well as altering a few other shot attempts.
Tingle pushed the lead back to nine following Spiegl’s shot, but Eminence hit a free throw and knocked in a layup with a foul to cut the lead to 16-10 with 4:59 left in the half.
Henry County had a difficult time finishing at the rim in the second quarter, which helped keep the Warriors within striking distance.
“We started off well and then we got in our own way on offense, missing six layups in the second quarter and eight free throws in the second quarter alone,” said Hook.
Eminence got the lead down to five on a jumper by Spiegl, but Henry County scored the final five points of the half to lead 22-12 at the break.
The 5-0 run featured a free throw each from Meg Golden and Micah MaGruder and a 3-pointer from MaGruder with 38 seconds remaining.
The game shifted from inside to outside in the second half. After a layup by Kiya Sacra to open the half, Henry County went on a 10-0 run to break open the game. Lay accounted for the last eight points In the streak on two 3-pointers and a layup.
Addison Roederer snapped the cold spell for Eminence with a triple of her own to move the score to 32-17 with 4:15 remaining in the third.
The Lady Cats pushed on the gas pedal a bit more to rattle off another double digit run to end the period. Coupled with a feisty full court press that gave Eminence fits, Henry County scored 12 consecutive points on four free throws, a 3-pointer each from Emily Herbert and Lay and a shot on the block from Tingle.
Spiegl sank one of two from the line with 43 seconds left to bring the margin to 44-18 after three quarters.
Overall, the Lady Cats outscored the Warriors 22-6 in the third quarter and made four 3-pointers.
“We did a good job moving the ball in the third quarter and going inside out to beat their zone or hitting off of a good skip pass. We shoot around 20-28 threes a game. When they go in the ceiling for us is very high. Hopefully, we are finally playing well at the end of the year,” said Hook.
Henry County made one final push in the fourth quarter to complete the season sweep over its crosstown rival.
Following a runner down the middle of the paint by Roederer, the Lady Cats buried two 3-pointers and a shot near the paint to go ahead by 34. Including a shot from Golden just eight seconds into the period, Henry County accounted for 10 of the first 12 points of the final period.
Sacra stopped the run with a runner, but the Lady Cats added five more points in the final 1:30 to seal the win.
“The last game we played Carroll County. We played them really well and I thought that would kind of carry over a little bit but this is like our third or fourth homecoming game that we played and being their senior night, they came out really well, in the second half specifically, they came out really wanting to play well and they did,” said Keene.
Roederer paced the Warrior offense with seven points and Spiegl added six points.
Tingle led Henry County with 18 points and 14 rebounds. She was recognized along with Golden and Herbert before the game for her contributions to the program over the years.
“Ashlyn has been on varsity for five years and started for four of them. Her ability to talk on the floor and her willingness to rebound and pass has set an expectation of what is expected by a Lady Cat. Ashlyn has worked hard every year to become possibly the best rebounder in program history and a great scorer as well. She is also a great friend and teammate,” said Hook.
Golden ended with three points and nine rebounds. She has played on the varsity squad for five years and started the last two seasons.
“She has shown what hard work will get you. Meg sets the tone for every practice every day. We pride ourselves as a program on communication and Meg is the standard bearer for that,” Hook said.
Herbert chipped in six points and a rebound as well for the Lady Cats, though basketball was not originally her sport of choice.
“Emily Herbert was converted to basketball as a freshman. She had been a lifelong cheerleader and an early sign of the culture we have been building at Lady Cat basketball. Emily came in and was a sponge and climbed her way from a complete project to sixth man that we can count on, along with being the biggest cheerleader of her teammates on the bench,” said Hook.
Henry County’s seniors had one final home game on Wednesday, Feb. 15 against Oldham County before district tournament play began on Feb. 20.