LEXINGTON -- Owensboro Catholic couldn't overcome turnovers in the KHSSA Sweet 16 State Basketball Tournament semifinal on Saturday night at Rupp Arena.
The Lady Aces cut a nine-point, third-quarter deficit to two points with 3:19 remaining before turnovers on three consecutive possessions helped ignite a 10-0 run for Ryle that propelled the Lady Raiders to a 55-43 semifinal win.
Catholic ends the year at 29-8, having a collected an All 'A' state championship and a program-best showing in the Sweet 16.
"It didn't turn out the way we wanted it, but I'm proud of these girls," Owensboro Catholic coach Michael Robertson said. "I think we showed that we can compete at this level. I'm really proud of them. We got beat by a really good team."
Neither team found a consistent grove on offense, with Catholic shooting 38.6 percent (17-of-44) from the field, while Ryle made just 31 percent (13-of-42), and neither team found a long-distance threat, making just three and two 3-pointers, respectively.
But the Lady Raiders were able to offset their shooting woes by living, and excelling, at the foul line, as they made 27-of-32 free throws (84.4 percent). Owensboro Catholic attempted just seven free throws, hitting six.
"When you put them on the line, it gives them a lot of baskets, a lot of points," Robertson said. "Half their points from the free throw line; you can't do that. You can't foul that much. We've got to play better position defense. We got out of position, liked to reach, and that's what happens."
Despite it's shooting issues and ball-handling miscues (20 turnovers), Catholic refused to go away when Ryle looked ready to deliver a knockout with a 34-25 lead with 2:49 left in the third quarter. Spencer Harvey and Mackenzie Keelin hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the deficit to 34-31.
Owensboro Catholic cut its deficit to two points midway through the fourth quarter on a putback by Keelin. Sarah Beth Clemens again cut the deficit to two, 43-41 with 3:19 to play, by draining two pressure free throws. But Ryle capitalized on the Lady Aces' errant passes and hit 12-of-13 free throws to pull away.
"I think we were trying to execute our plays, and maybe had people in the wrong places that didn't execute it exactly how we wanted it," said Robertson of the late miscues. "They played hard. I really don't have an answer for why that happened. I think they left it all out on the floor, and I'm proud of them."
Hannah McKay scored a team-high 16 points for Catholic. Keelin added eight points.
The Lady Aces won the rebounding battle, 32-27, led by Madeline Lyon's team-high eight boards.
"I'm very proud of all the girls on my team, and I was proud of the way they showed up in this tournament," Lyon said. "I wouldn't change it for the world to be on the Lady Aces basketball team. I'm very proud of all of them. We played our hearts out, and I think we proved that we can hang with tough teams."
Owensboro Catholic took its only lead at 10-8 a little more than halfway through the first quarter. Ryle answered with a 7-0 run to close the quarter.
Both teams opened the second quarter ragged. Owensboro Catholic committed four turnovers before Keelin hit a 3-pointer that cut its deficit to 16-13. Consecutive baskets by McKay cut Ryle's lead to 18-17. But Ryle answered with a 7-0 run that propelled it to a 25-19 halftime advantage.
"I just think we played weak early, I think jitters," Robertson said. "Their press probably had an effect. They're a little bit longer than we're used to, their size; they're about the same size as us.
"We haven't seen a lot of teams like that, so I think that did bother us. And they're strong, they're women, they're not girls. They're strong, they're athletes and they play hard."
Ryle (32-5) was led by Brie Crittendon's game-high 19 points. Lauren Schwartz added 16 points. Juliet McGregor had 15 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
"They're not happy in that locker room, but I guess you shouldn't be, either," Robertson said. "But its a great accomplishment for this team, for this little bitty school.
"Like everybody says, this is a special tournament because there is only one champion. So for us to be here in the final four, with a shot at making it to the championship game, I couldn't ask for much more, and I'm proud of them."
RYLE 15-10-14-16 -- 55
OWENSBORO CATHOLIC 10-9-14-10 -- 43
Ryle (55) -- Crittendon 19, Schwartz 16, McGregor 15, Scherr 3, Johnson 2.
Owensboro Catholic (43) -- McKay 16, Keelin 8, Lyon 6, Clemens 6, Harvey 5, Henning 2.