For The Independent
It was not pretty, but that is how Rowan County girls basketball coach Jenn Williams drew it up.
The Lady Vikings defeated Bath County 41-37 on Wednesday at Menifee County High School to advance to the 61st District championship and clinch a spot in next week’s 16th Region Tournament.
“I overcoached us in the first half,” Williams said. “Our kids were doing what I was asking but they were overthinking. In the second half, we played our (type of game) and that’s what made us successful.”
In a game in which defense controlled the tempo, Rowan (15-13) took advantage of 21 Lady Cat turnovers and converted them to 20 points.
“We’ve had a lot of games like that season,” junior Faith Conn said. “We played to win and now we advance to Friday and have a chance to play in Region.” She finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Bath County (15-11) took the lead late in the fourth quarter on an Amber Martin 3-point field goal. Bath County’s lone senior finished with a team-high 12 points, but Rowan County went for 20 points in the fourth — the Lady Vikings had 21 through the first three quarters — to stay alive and end the Lady Cats’ season.
“We missed some 50-50 balls and had some crucial turnovers down the stretch that really hurt us,” Bath County coach Troy Lee Thomas said. “That’s the game sometimes.”
Throughout that fourth quarter, the Lady Vikings connected on five straight baskets, capped off by a Hannah Bandura layup, who started in place of starter Becca Duff (illness). That gave Rowan County a 37-33 advantage. Bandura finished with eight points, eight rebounds and five steals. Rowan County then went 4 of 7 down the stretch at the free-throw line for the final margin.
“We had some rotation issues from a rhythm standpoint,” Williams said. “Hannah was huge though and she played with a lot of confidence and played a big defensive game.”
Rowan County will face Fleming County on Friday night for the district crown. The Lady Panthers defeated Menifee County on Wednesday. Rowan County and Fleming County split its regular season meetings. The Panthers won theirs on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer on Jan. 28.
“We feel like we owe them one,” Williams said. “We missed free throws down the stretch and an offensive board that helped set up that shot. ... We will be ready to go.”
ROWAN 10 5 8 16 — 41
BATH 8 5 6 20 — 37
Rowan County (41) — Bandura 8, Helvey 2, F. Conn 14, T. Conn 12, Justice 4, Plank 4. 3-Pt. FG: 3-11. FT: 8-12. PF: 13.
Bath County (37) — Porter 7, Rogers 1, Martin 12, Price 9, Sparks 8. 3-Pt. FG: 5-18. FT: 6-9. PF: 13.