By: Deron Mays
Sentinel Sports Writer
Coach Travis Smith’s Owsley County Lady Owls got a late start on the 2020-21 season, as have all teams due to Covid19 restrictions, but when their season finally got under way they made the most of the first games by winning the third All A regional tournament in school history. Owsley had also won the region in 2010 and 2012. Owsley cut down the nets after a hard fought 44-39 victory over Knott County Central.
The Lady Owls drew a bye in the first round of the tournament. They played Jackson City at Jackson in the second round and won that game 63-24, placing three players in double figures. Carly Smith and Kenzie Herald both scored 18 points and Lexy Lynch added 17. Ameila Murray had 8 points and Addie Terry had 2. Murray also had 14 rebounds.
The semifinals were at Owsley County’s gymnasium this year and were played on Saturday, January 9. Owsley faced off against Breathitt County and Leslie County- Knott Central played in the other game. The Breathitt game was early, starting at 10 AM. The reason for the early start was to give enough time between the games (there was also two boys games in the afternoon) to empty the gym and sanitize it before the next contest.
Owsley used their press to great effect in the early part of the game against Breathitt and forced the Lady Bobcats into numerous turnovers, many converted into layups. The Lady Owls coasted to a 59-24 victory and used their bench in the last quarter. Carly Smith led the scoring with 19, Lexy Lynch had 15, Kenzie Herald 8, Addie Terry 5, Mic Johnson 5, Ameila Murray 5, and Shelby Murray 2. Owsley shot 43% on field goals. They also made 8 treys. Ameila Murray had 9 rebounds and Addie Terry had 8.
The championship game on Sunday against Knott Central was a grind-it-out intense game that went right down to the wire. The crowd was small due to the Covid19 restrictions allowing only 15% of the gym seating capacity to be in attendance. However, the games were carried by several streaming outlets that allowed fans to watch the games on their home televisions, phones and computers. Bluegrass Sports Nation from Jackson, Hometown24 from Hindman, and WSGS from Hazard all carried the games. PRTC also utilized one of the services and carried the game on their channel. I was told that hundreds watched the games on each streaming service, so it was great that the fans were able to enjoy one heck of a championship game.
Knott led 9-7 after the first quarter and from that moment on it was evident that the game was not going to be the fast paced, pressing type game that each team had seen in their previous games vs Breathitt and Leslie. It turned into a possession game with intense defense and points difficult to score. Owsley finally regained the lead to hold a 17-15 halftime advantage. The 3rd quarter was more of the same but Owsley was able to push their lead out to 35-30 by the end of the period. The 4th quarter saw the Lady Owls get a little breathing room behind two treys by Carly Smith and 4 straight free throws. At one time they pushed their lead out to 9 points. After a Knott Central timeout the Lady Patriots came at the Lady Owls with a very aggressive full court press and it paid off as they were able to strip the ball away several times and convert some points to make it a closer game within the last minute of play. With the Owls clinging to a 3 point lead with about 12 second remaining Knott had the ball and was trying to get in position for a game tying 3 pointer, but Lexy Lynch stole a pass and took it the length of the floor for a layup as the horn sounded to end the game and earn Owsley County the regional All A championship. Carly Smith, who was named MVP, led the Lady Owls with 18 points. Lexy Lynch scored 11 points, Kenzie Herald had 8, Mic Jonson 4, and Ameila Murray 4. Abby Maggard led Knott with 11 points. Owsley shot 46 % for the game. Lexy Lynch earned a double-double with her 11 points and team high 10 rebounds.
Owsley County will play Hancock County from the 3rd region in the All A Classic State Tournament on February 18th at EKU in Richmond.