3-Cliffhangers in 2-Nights! Part 1 Bardstown@Bethlehem Girls Basketball
3-CliffHangers in 2-Nights! Part 1
Bardstown @ Bethelehm Girls Basketball
The first meeting between the Bardstown Lady Tigers and the Bethlehem Lady Banshees was a MUST SEE event for 19th District fans because it was the first time that either team had met at this point in the season with just one loss. It was no surprise that the game drew a larger than average crowd for a Girl-Boy double header which also included many media outlets which were there to see the two hottest teams in the area for a first place showdown. Bardstown, which had made a Regional final appearance last season was considered by many as the only team which might separate themselves from the pack to challenge Elizabethtown in late February.
After an opening game stumble to Marion County, head coach Amber Courtney’s Lady Tigers have looked nothing less than spectacular. Meanwhile, not much was expected by their opponent, the homestanding Lady Banshees as they had showed some progress under new coach Jason Clark, who had come over from Nelson County and put together 18-wins last season. With the loss of one of their best players (guard Ellie Taylor), that progress appeared short lived, but look at them now as Bethlehem had hit the ground running to their best start EVER with a 14-1 start.
Some of Taylor’s loss was softened by the emergence of sophomore transfers guard Amelia Hodges and forward Ella Thompson from Nelson County. Hodges leads the team in scoring and Thompson in rebounds. The two have added to an already talented lineup of Madie Sparks, Baeli Young, Mikiah Livers-Bryant and Carly Beam so was it a surprise to any that the SRO crowd at Behlehem high school was in a high energy mood. Bardstown may have pulled out a sqeaker in a 60-58 overtime win, but it was far from easy.
Bethlehem got out in front first with several big baskets by Madie Sparks, several were tough bank shots, but Bardstown stayed close early with a couple of three’s. The Lady Banshees early 16-14 lead would not last long with the defense play of the game which would see several players leave the game after fouling out. Still, after the Lady Tigers tied the score at 38-38 late in the third it looked like it might be a down to the wire game as both teams missed open shots and free throw shooting would play a huge part in the end result. The Lady Banshees held a 43-39 and 45-42 leads with about 3:30 left and couldn’t hold them. Trying to get their first victory over Bardstown since January 14, 2014, the pressure started to get to the Lady Banshees and the Lady Tigers took advantage.
A Baeli Young basket made it 47-46 with 2:36 left, but were unable to add on to the lead when Sparks, after a Bardstown turnover on the other ended had her shot blocked by Katrina Brown then Ella Thompson fouled out during a scuffle for the loose ball. With Bethlehem’s leading rebounder out of the game, Bardstown attacked inside after tying the score at 47-all. Cadence Walls, who had played well for Bardstown, also fouled out and then Young hit a big pressure basket to put the Lady Banshees up 49-48 with 00:38 left. After Hodges hit a free throw, Bardstown tied it up at 51-all and the game went to overtime. The Lady Tigers started fast with three points to make it 56-53, but Young, who had a marvelous night cut the lead at 56-55, but then Hodges, who had been fighting cramps all game long fouled out and the Lady Tigers finally put the game away with several clutch free throws.
It was not a pretty game by any means, but despite the turnovers, missed shots and average free throw shooting, it was most definitely a game for each team to build on. Courtney, who’s team lost several starters from last year’s team (Love, Koger and Allie Walsh) just found out how well her team could handle the pressure in a rivalry game. Jaileyah Cotton finished with 20-points (eight were at the free throw line) as Bardstown won their 16th straight game since the opening day disaster against Marion County. For Bethlehem, who came close, but got no cigar there are positives which Clark will use in two more weeks when these same two teams meet again at Bardstown for round two. Better get there early.