HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – The Simon Kenton High School girls basketball team overcame a sluggish start and shot 78.9 percent in the second half to beat Paintsville 70-45 on Thursday in the first round of the St. Elizabeth Healthcare/KHSAA Sweet 16 at Northern Kentucky University’s BB&T Arena.
No. 3 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings, Simon Kenton was tied with Paintsville 26-26 at halftime but hit 15 of 19 shots in the second half to pull away.
“You saw Simon Kenton basketball in the second half,” Pioneers coach Jeff Stowers said. “I don’t know if it was jitters or what (in the first half). At halftime we made an adjustment with our pressure and decided we weren’t going to put them on the line.”
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Junior guard Ally Niece, an NKU commit, hit 13 of 14 free throws and scored 29 points to lead Simon Kenton. Madi Meier added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Simon Kenton (28-6) will face No. 9 Franklin County (31-5) in Friday’s 6:30 p.m. quarterfinal. The Pioneers beat the Flyers 67-43 on Jan. 19 in Scott County’s Toyota Classic.
Elizabeth Williams (12 points) and Presley Chirico (11 points, nine rebounds, five steals) led Paintsville (28-5), which was playing in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1932.
“We hung around for three quarters, and then we just ran out of gas,” Paintsville coach Les Trimble said. “They just killed us in transition.”
Holmes 45, Grayson County 32: Laila Johnson scored 14 points to lead the No. 12 Bulldogs (28-5) over the Cougars (22-11).
Up 17-14 at halftime, Holmes outscored Grayson County 15-5 in the third quarter to take control. The Bulldogs shot 53.3 percent (8 of 15) in the second half and advanced to face No. 17 Henderson County (28-5) in Friday’s 8 p.m. quarterfinal.
Grace White had 16 points and nine rebounds to lead Grayson County, which was in the Sweet 16 for the first time. The Cougars shot just 31.7 percent (13 of 41).
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
SIMON KENTON 70, PAINTSVILLE 45
PAINTSVILLE (28-5) – Elizabeth Williams 12p; Presley Chirico 11p, 9r, 5s; Anna Keeton 9p, 5a; Katelyn Fitch 1p; Abby James 5p; Eleanora Lanzani 7p.
SIMON KENTON (28-6) – Shelby Harmeyer 3p; Kendyl Gilliam 3p; Bailee Harney 9p, 4a; Ally Niece 29p, 6r, 6a; Madi Meier 10p, 10r; Maggi Jones 9p; Mattie Vickers 3p; Morgan Stamper 2p; Briana Dressman 2p.
HOLMES 45, GRAYSON COUNTY 32
GRAYSON COUNTY (22-11) – Grace White 16p, 9r; Allie Horton 5p, 4a; Hannah Saltsman 8p, 7r; Shannon Smith 2p; Kenzie Renfrow 1p.
HOLMES (28-5) – Laila Johnson 14p; Kamari Graham 9p; Latavia Keith 4p; Tyrah McClendon-Englemon 8p, 5r, 3a; Jaynice Stovall 8p, 5r, 4a; Deara Stowers 2p.