Lady Cats answer challenge by rallying past JACES in county finals

By John Henson, Managing Editor


Facing adversity for the first time during a season in which they dominated county competition, Rosspoint coach Johnny Simpson wasn’t sure how his Lady Cats would react as they faced a three-point deficit with four minutes to play in the fifth- and sixth-grade county championship game Thursday at Harlan County High School against a James A. Cawood squad that had battled from the opening tip.
“You don’t know that to expect with 10- and 11-year old kids. The closest game we had in the county was 10 or 11 points,” Simpson said. “That’s 100 percent on JACES. They packed it in and we didn’t hit a lot of jump shots. I told my girls the whole game to drive. The last quarter we finally did.”
The Lady Cats answered the challenge with defense and clutch free-throw shooting, hitting nine of 12 at the line in the final four minutes to rally for a 35-30 win over the Trojanettes.
“That’s big. Reagan Clem and Shasta Brackett stepped up big, and Jaylee Cochran hit one also,” Simpson said.
Down 22-18 going into the fourth quarter, the Lady Cats picked up the pressure on defense by going to a man-to-man that limited the Trojanettes to eight points.
“I had man-to-man in my back pocket. We did a good job with it. I tell them you will play that a lot in high school, so you need to know,” Simpson said. “They did a good job switching and sagging off. I don’t know where our minds were at for three quarters, but they stepped up in the fourth quarter. This is a good group of girls. They haven’t even scraped the surface of their potential.”
Brackett, a sixth-grade center, scored 12 points to lead the 21-2 Lady Cats. Clem, a fifth-grade guard, added nine points.
The 12-4 Trojanettes were led by sixth-grade guard Carmen Thomas with 12 points. Taylynn Napier, a fourth-grade guard, added eight points.
Rosspoint defeated JACES three times during the regular season, all by double digits, including a 46-16 win on Oct. 26.
“Carmen is a good kid who has always been great on defense but is starting to become more of a weapon on offense,” Simpson said. “I thought Taylynn Napier killed us early shooting 3s. JACES played awesome, and this is the best game we’ve been involved in all year. I’m just glad to come out on top.”
Black Mountain solidified its case as the county’ s most improved team, capturing third place with a 33-26 win over Wallins after entering the tournament as the fifth seed.
Jayla Dillman scored 15 points and Madalyn Bennett added 13 for Black Mountain.
Kylie Runions led Wallins with 12 points.
Rosspoint (35) — Reagan Clem 9, Jaycee Simpson 3, Lauren Lewis 3, Jaylee Cochran 8, Shasta Brackett 12.
James A. Cawood (30) — Carmen Thomas 14, Taylynn Napier 8, Lia-Kate Carter 6, Addy Davis 1, Haley Berry 1.
Black Mountain (33) — Madalyn Bennett 13, Jayla Dillman 15, Carly Turner 3, Kelsie Middleton 2.
Wallins (26) — Kayleigh Templeton 9, Kylie Runions 12, Brooklyn Haywood 2, Addison Day 3.