CORBIN — Bell County shot the lights out early to jump into the lead, then used a dominant third quarter to break away for a 63-47 win over Lynn Camp in the first round of the girls’ 13th Region Tournament on Tuesday.
Maci Morris led the Lady Cats with 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting to go along with ten rebounds. Fellow junior Jess Sanders went 6-for-8 from the field and hit all four of her 3-point attempts to finish with 16 points and four assists. Senior guard Morgan Garnett added eleven points to go along with four steals.
Morris opened the scoring with a little runner down the lane and Bell County never trailed. The Lady Cats hit six straight 3-pointers — two each from Sanders, Morris and Garnett —with Garnett’s second one pushing the lead to 20-7 with 1:10 to play in the first quarter.
“We put a lot of emphasis on trying to go a good job shooting the basketball,” Bell County coach David Teague said. “We came out shooting the ball well, but that might have been the only thing we were doing good. Our focus wasn’t there defensively, but fortunately we made some shots.”
Heather Wilson, who led Lynn Camp with 17 points, followed her own miss for a putback late in the first quarter and then opened the second with another basket to bring Lady Wildcats within 20-11.
Garnett answered with her third trey of the game and Morris later hit a long two-pointer followed by her third from well beyond the NBA 3-point line that’s painted on The Arena’s court. Sanders’ 14-foot jumper gave the Lady Cats their biggest lead of the half at 30-16 with 2:55 to go. The Lady Cats hit eight of their first nine attempts from long range and finished 10 for 17 for the game.
“I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but we’re a pretty good 3-point shooting team,” Garnett said. “Where they were so big inside we kind of knew that we were going to have to shoot it from out there. We came out hot at first and then when our shots stopped falling we were looking to penetrate.”
Lynn Camp senior Merita Burke scored six of her 13 points late in the half, leading the Lady Wildcats on a 10-2 run with Miranda Miller’s basket cutting the lead to 32-26 at the break.
“Lynn Camp scraps and they play hard. We were letting them get down into the lane too easily and we didn’t rebound the ball well on the weak side,” Teague said. “Instead of getting down and guarding with our feet we were just trying to guard with our hands and our arms. If you’re doing that it allows teams to do what they want to.”
At halftime Teague lit a fire under the Lady Cats and they turned up the defensive intensity in the third quarter.
Sanders hit a 3, a Garnett steal led to two Morris free throws and a Kelli Smith steal led to a Sanders layup as Bell started the second half with a quick 7-0 run.
“At halftime we got a pretty good speech from Coach Teague. Our defensive effort was horrible in the first half,” Garnett added. “In the third quarter we got a couple of steals and got a little run going. I think that gave us what we were looking for.”
The Lady Cats forced nine turnovers in the period and held Lynn Camp to just one basket, a short jumper from Burke off an inbounds play from under their own goal. Bell outscored the Lady Wildcats 16-4 in the third quarter and two free throws from Garnett made it 48-30 going into the fourth.
“Bell County has got a good team and we were lucky to be in the game at halftime with the way they shot the ball,” Lynn Camp coach Richard Jones said. “In the second half we kind of turned the ball over a little bit and they got that lead out on us.”
Jessica May and Wilson hit two free throws each to get the Lady Wildcats as close as 14. But Smith scored four points, Sanders hit a 3 and Morris made an athletic drive down the lane for a layup and the Bell lead was 59-37 with 3:31 remaining.
Lynn Camp didn’t go down without a fight down the stretch. Wilson scored five points, Brooklyn Bryant hit a 3 and May also scored three points as they got the final margin down to 16.
The Lady Wildcats finish the season with a 22-8 record, it’s the best winning percentage in school history and just one win shy of the school record they set last year. It was the final game for seniors Burke, Wilson and May.
“I’m proud of my girls, they played hard. We’ve got three great seniors,” Jones said. “Merita has played the longest, since she was in sixth grade. Since she’s been playing for me we’ve made four trips to the region. Lynn Camp basketball had made one trip to the region in all the years before that. So I’m proud of her.”
Bell County (25-4) advances to play Corbin (24-7) in the semifinals on Saturday at 1 p.m. Corbin got past North Laurel 59-40 in Tuesday’s other first round game. It’s a rematch of last year’s 13th Region championship game, which the Lady Redhounds won 63-60.
“Last year we came up a little bit short. That was the first time we had ever been in a position like that and I think nerves got the best of us. But we know what we’ve got to do now and we’re ready to have a rematch,” Garnett said.
The Lady Cats won both games at Corbin during the regular season — 83-82 back on Dec. 7 in the Cumberland Falls Invitational and 69-57 on Feb. 1, which was the last time the Lady Redhounds lost.
“It will be a very big game,” Teague added. “They’ve got a nice basketball team and we’re very familiar with one another. We’ll take these next few days and try to get ready for Saturday afternoon, it should be a very good basketball game. Hopefully we’ll come focused and ready to play.”
— — —
LYNN CAMP (22-8)
Heather Wilson 4-10 9-12 17, Merita Burke 5-14 3-4 13, Jessica May 2-3 4-6 8, Miranda Miller 1-4 0-2 2, Brooklyn Bryant 3-10 0-0 7, Ginger White 0-0 0-0 0, Brianna Hollin 0-0 0-0 0, Destiny Hill 0-3 0-0 0, Brandi Coe 0-0 0-0 0, Kristian Kersey 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-44 16-24 47.
BELL COUNTY (25-4)
Maci Morris 7-14 3-4 20, Morgan Garnett 3-9 2-3 11, Kelli Smith 1-3 2-2 4, Jess Sanders 6-8 4-4 16, Katrina Johnson 1-2 2-4 4, Sarah Collins 1-3 2-2 4, Allison Howard 1-1 0-0 2, Kaitlyn Taylor 1-1 0-0 2, Caleigh Collett 0-0 0-0 0, Kaylia Hoskins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-41 11-15 63.
|3-point goals: Lynn Camp 1-9 (Bryant 1-3, Wilson 0-2, Burke 0-2, Hill 0-2), Bell County 10-17 (Sanders 4-4, Morris 3-7, Garnett 3-6). Rebounds: Lynn Camp 24 (Wilson 7, May 7), Bell County 26 (Morris 10, Garnett 4). Assists: Lynn Camp 6 (Miller 2, Wilson 2), Bell County 11 (Sanders 4, Morris 3). Turnovers: Lynn Camp 15, Bell County 15. Total fouls: Lynn Camp 14, Bell County 14. Fouled out: none.|