MURRAY —- McLean County (6-3) started strong–then held on–against Paducah Tilghman, dropping the Lady Tornado 60-52 in Wednesday’s bout for fifth place at the Murray Bank Hardwood Classic.
It was a strong, sophomoric effort from the Lady Cougars, who were bolstered by a strong inside presence from forward Whitley Patterson and true center Jade Fulkerson.
Patterson shined with 21 points and seven rebounds, including a sterling 11-for-11 from the charity stripe, while Fulkerson came off the bench and chipped in a game-high 10 rebounds.
Paducah Tilghman head coach Jim Larson noted it was particularly difficult for his developing frontcourt to handle the Lady Cougars’
inside presence, which eventually overwhelmed his club.
“(McLean) has got some good inside players with the ability to stretch the floor on you,” he said. “They can pull you away from the basket, and we don’t have post players that are able to guard away from the basket just yet.”
McLean County held its largest advantage of the contest, 25-16, early in the second quarter when Paducah Tilghman’s Sophia Patterson opened up with three straight triples to bolster an 11-0 run. Senior Miriah Donelson, who finished with 20 points to lead the Lady Tornado, added another three right before the halftime buzzer for a 31-27 lead.
But the Lady Cougars responded straight out of the second-half gate.
Patterson picked up two quick baskets before junior guard Sarah King capped a 6-0 run with two of her 14 points, trimming Tilghman’s lead to just 34-33.
Senior center Kirstin Ayer hit a freebie right before the end of the third to help the Lady Cougars reclaim the lead, 39-38. McLean County was able to surge ahead in the fourth quarter behind a 13-for-18 team effort from the line, while Paducah Tilghman would miss its final four shots of the contest.
Late in the fourth quarter, threes from Donelson and senior guard Whitney Shaw twice cut the Lady Cougars’ lead to just three points.
Another sophomore for the Lady Cougars, guard Hadley Rice, hit her third three of the contest to give McLean County a 53-45 lead with less than two minutes to play, essentially closing the door on the Lady Tornado. She would finish with nine points.
Paducah Tilghman 15 16 9 12 – 52
McLean County 15 12 14 19 – 60
Lady Cougars: Patterson 21, King 14, Rice 9, Miller 7, Jackson 5, Fulkerson 3, Ayer 1 FG 17-42, 3PT 3-11 (Rice 3), FT 23-34, Reb 30
Also at the tournament, the Lady Cougars lost 44-47 against the Calloway County Lakers. Sarah King led with 12 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals. Whitley Patterson had 10 points and three rebounds. Maddie Miller had 10 points, two rebounds and two assists. Kirstin Ayer snagged eight rebounds.
McLean County dominated the Carlisle County Comets with a 54-34 win. Sarah King was the player of the game with 18 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals. Whitley Patterson had 11 points and seven rebounds. Keile Jackson put up five points and brought down an impressive 10 rebounds.
Kristy Baldwin contributed to this report.