Bailey Daniel’s steal and layup with 5.5 seconds left helped Johnson Central rally for a 62-60 win over Letcher County Central in the opening round of the girls’ Sweet 16 tournament last week in Bowling Green.
Johnson Central (22-11) trailed by as many as eight points in the second half before pulling even 58-58 on a Daniel layup with 1:19 left.
After both teams added two free throws, Daniel stole the ball at midcourt and went in for the uncontested layup.
Letcher County Central (18-11) had a chance to win the March 12 contest, but Cheyanna Stidham’s 3 from the right wing was short, giving Johnson Central its first win in nine tries in the Sweet 16.
Daniel led Johnson Central with 26 points, while Ali May added 11 points.
Kristina Bentley led Letcher County Central with 25 points, while Stidham and Courtney Brock had 13 points each.
Johnson Central went on to play Mason County in the quarterfinals March 13, but fell 52-34. Mason County eventually lost to Allen County-Scottsville, 49-42, in Saturday’s semifinals.
The 2015 KHSAA Girls’ Sweet 16 championship game was claimed by Covington Holy-Cross, which defeated Allen County-Scottsville on Sunday, 35-32.
Johnson Central 62
Letcher Central 60
Injuries and a short bench finally caught up with the Lady Cougars in the opening round of the Girls’ Sweet 16 Tournament in Bowling Green, with their 62-60 loss to the Johnson Central Lady Golden Eagles.
Johnson Central, the champions of the 15th Region, trailed by eight points, 49-41, with 6:01 left to play, but rallied behind junior guard Bailey Daniel for their firstever state tournament victory.
This game had eight lead changes in the first quarter before LCCHS took the lead at 15-12 on senior forward Courtney Brock’s trey with 2:10 left in the first quarter. Brock picked up her second foul late in the first quarter and went to the bench and did not return until the start of the third quarter.
With Brock on the bench, LCCHS struggled against the Lady Golden Eagles’ relentless defensive pressure. LCCHS, which led 17-16 after the first quarter, committed seven turnovers in the second quarter but still managed to hang on to the lead 27-24 at the half.
Bailey Daniel, who entered the game averaging 13 points per game, had been held to just three points in the first half but she took over the game for Johnson Central in the second half — scoring six points in the third quarter and 16 down the stretch including a steal and layup in the final 10 seconds that gave Johnson Central the 62- 60 win.
Despite Bailey Daniel’s offensive fireworks, LCCHS refused to give up the lead in the second half until Daniel’s steal in the final seconds.
Senior guard Cheyanne Stidham, who led LCCHS offensively in the first half with 12 points, received a lot of defensive attention in the second half and finished with 14 points.
Senior forward Kristina Bentley, who had eight points in the first half, carried the Lady Cougars in the second half and finished with 24 points and eight rebounds. In the third quarter, Bentley’s postup gave LCCHS a 38-30 lead at the 1:59 mark.
The Lady Cougars led 43-39 going into the last quarter and extended their lead out to 49-41 on senior forward Kelly Adams’s free throw line jumper with 6:01 left to play setting up Bailey Daniel’s heroics. Over the final six minutes, Daniel scored 16 of the Lady Golden Eagles’ final 21 points.
Sophomore guard Ali May scored 14 points for 22-11 Johnson Central. Sophomore Lauryn Salyer finished with nine points.
LCC competed by making shots. The Lady Cougars made 10/18 field goal attempts for 56 percent in the first half and outrebounded Johnson Central 12-7. For the game, the Lady Cougars made 21/36 field goal attempts for 58 percent — and still lost. LCC made 18 total turnovers, including
10 in the second half. Johnson Central also came up with 11 steals — including the steal in the final seconds that gave it the victory.
Courtney Brock battled foul troubles again which limited her time on the court, but she still finished with 13 points. Kelly Adams added six points and 6 rebounds. Amber Crawford finished with three points.
Johnson Central shot 44 percent by making 20 of 46 field goal attempts. The Lady Golden Eagles made 14 turnovers — eight in the second half.
LCC completed a very improbable run to the Sweet 16 with an 18-11 record and graduates seven seniors: Kelly Adams, Sara Baker, Kristina Bentley, Courtney Brock, Amber Crawford, Kim Meade and Cheyanne Stidham.