The Dow was up 51 points Tuesday night but ultimately closed with a defeat.
Despite a historic 51-point effort by Christian Academy senior China Dow in the girls’ Class Act Seventh Region Tournament quarterfinals, the Centurions lost to Sacred Heart 77-67 at Bellarmine’s Knights Hall.
The loss ended an illustrious career for Dow, a Middle Tennessee State signee, who scored over 2,000 points during her time at Christian Academy.
“Tonight is something that I’ll be able to flashback on, that I can cry back on, laugh about,” said Dow.
“But it wasn’t about scoring 51. It was being with my teammates,” she continued. “(For my career), I take away that you can’t do it or just be by yourself. Everybody sees me as a star, but a star can’t just win all the games. A star has to have a great team behind them, and it’s not just a one-man game.”
Having Dow “do it by herself” was exactly what the victorious Valkyries were hoping for. Earlier in the week, SHA coach Donna Moir made it clear that her team was going to allow Dow to get her points but make an effort to shut down the rest.
Dow finished 19 of 38; the rest of the Centurions were 6 of 28.
“I pride myself and I think our teams play excellent defense, so (Dow) earned all 51 points,” said Moir. “But we weren’t going to leave (Kate Joss). We followed her all night. We weren’t going to let one player beat us.”
The Valkyries, which lost to CAL 59-50 back in mid-January, opened up a 21-point fourth-quarter lead behind a memorable individual performance on their own team. Junior DaiJia Ruffin, who finished with a team-high 35 points and game-high 21 rebounds, made 15 of the 19 shots she attempted, had five assists and played all but 35 seconds in a fast-paced contest.
“The other night she got her 1,000th (career) point, just at Sacred Heart…so I told her, ‘Play like you’re going to get that 1,000th point (tonight)’,” said Moir of Ruffin. “She got to the basket. When we played (CAL) before, DaiJia kind of floated out on the perimeter and we felt like we needed her down on the block to challenge – we knew her and (China) were going to go head-to-head.”
“This is actually my first 35-point game ever,” said Ruffin, who admitted that she peaked at the stat sheet at halftime. “Tonight, I just knew I had to go out and play as hard as I could so that we could get this win.”
Ruffin said that her and her teammates knew it was win or go home, and it wasn’t going to be them.
* Manual 47, Male 27: With the team’s leading scorer Destony Curry on the bench with torn ligaments in her ankle, Manual countered and responded with one of its grittiest defensive efforts of the season.
Holding Male to single digits in the second, third, and fourth quarters, including just eight total points in the second half, the defending regional champion Crimsons defeated Male .
“The way that Male played us, we really missed Destony because it’s an open-court game where the defense is really extended out and there are lots of driving lanes that are open, and Destony can really exploit those better than anybody on our team,” Manual coach Stacy Pendleton said.
Manual 6-foot-1 senior Kayla Styles, a Xavier University signee, provided the primary offense in Curry’s absence and finished the game with 16 points, 16 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, and 2 steals.
“That was a big night,” said Pendleton of Styles’ performance.
The Crimsons also got a solid game from sophomore forward Aricka Prentice. With Manual (20-8) leading by single digits, Prentice went on a personal 7-0 run, including one of her two 3-pointers of the game, and quickly extended the Crimson lead to 37-21 with 1:52 left in the third quarter.
Prentice finished with 10 points and was perfect from the floor. She hit Manual’s only two 3-pointers and had three rebounds in 17 minutes.
“Aricka has been doing that for us all year,” Pendleton said. “Whenever it’s really tough or things are not going well, she’s like the warrior of the group. She’s got such confidence and plays with such tenacity — she was key to that run (tonight).”
Male (17-12) did not have any players reach double digits in scoring and struggled to get the ball near the hoop in the third and fourth quarters. Eighth-grader Jana Lewis and sophomore Jhericka Stephenson scored six points apiece to lead the Bulldogs in scoring, but were unable to get anything going against a lethal Manual defense.
The Bulldogs finished with just 10 free throw attempts and committed 26 turnovers.
“That’s what you need to win championships. You’ve got to have a team that can get defensive stops, and we’ve really made that huge,” said Pendleton. “Getting defensive stops is what we focus on and I was proud of my team in the second half.”
With Manual’s victory, the defending regional and state champions advance to Friday’s semifinal round, meaning Curry, who averages a team-leading 14.7 points per game, could play in the Seventh Region Tournament final four.
“She’ll be anywhere from 5 to 150 percent,” said a grinning and facetious Pendleton. “She’s going to play (on Friday) and she’s moving around on it pretty well. She’ll be ready to go.”
* Assumption 67, Central 40: The Rockets (21-7) Used a 25-3 run in the second quarter to overcome a slow start vs. the Yellowjackets.
After Central went out to an 18-10 lead, the Assumption frontcourt duo of sophomore Nora Kiesler and senior Katie Friedrich took over.
Nora Kiesler, a 6-foot-7 center, had nine points and eight rebounds in the second quarter alone, helping Assumption to outscore Central 25-5 during the period.
Kiesler finished with a game-high 14 points and 10 rebounds. Katie Friedrich notched a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds on a 6-of-10 shooting.
The Jackets struggled in the second and third quarters, shooting a combined 4-of-25 from the field and scoring just 10 total points.
Erin Mullen was the third Assumption player in double digits with 10 points. She also dished five assists.
Brianna Hawkins led Central (13-14) in points (11) and rebounds (nine). Central committed 22 turnovers and was outrebounded 50-31.
* Ballard 62, Seneca 39: Tearra Banks shook off a hard shot to the knee after being called for a charge late and returned moments later in a 19-point performance to lead Ballard, No. 6 in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings, over Seneca.
Already without the services of all-state junior Javonna Layfield because of a season-ending ACL injury, the Ballard bench held its collective breath as Banks lay under the basket grimacing and holding her left knee midway through the second quarter.
To the delight of the Bruins, however, the 6-foot-3 Austin Peay signee Banks would return just a few minutes later to lead Ballard, ranked No. 6 in the Courier-Journal Litkenhous Ratings.
Banks, who scored the final five Bruin points of the first half after returning to the game, went on to shoot 9 of 18 from the field in the victory.
Seneca cut its deficit to nine points on four different occasions during the third quarter, but could get no closer. After Redhawks senior Niya Anderson’s free throw cut the Ballard lead to 36-27 with 1:56 to go in the period, the Bruins responded with a 13-0 run.
Senior forward Sabrina Jackson led Seneca with a 12-point, 15-rebound double-double in 27 minutes of action.
Aundrea Matchen and Brandi Ray combined for 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 steals for Ballard. Ray hit the Bruins’ only two 3-pointers during the contest.
Seneca senior Jada Grady hit a trio of 3-pointers and finished with nine points in the final game of her career. Anderson (7 points) and Keaira Pennie (9 rebounds, 5 blocks) also had strong games in the losing effort.
Seven Region girls tournament
Christian Academy (18-11) – Dunn 3, Helm 4, Joss 3, Bowman 2, Dow 51, Campbell 4
(22-8) – Johnson 16, Samsel 6, Matula 9, Ruffin 35, Stough 9, Long 2
3-point goals – Dunn, Joss, Dow 5, Johnson 3, Samsel, Stough
Male (17-12) – Kraft 2, Curry 4, Stephenson 6, Buckel 2, Jackson 5, Lewis 6, Rice 2.
Manual (20-8) – Hawkins 2, Styles 16, Allen 2, Prentice 10, Long 6, Mitchell 2, McCune 8.
3-point goals – Stephenson 2, Prentice 2.
Central (13-14) – Evans 4, Delgado 8, Hackett 5, Pillow 2, Hawkins 11, Jones 10
Assumption (21-7) – Sliter 6, Jenkins 4, Deeley 4, Zickel 3, Hunter 5, Steinmetz 1, Mullen 10, Kiesler 14, Friedrich 13, Monaghan 3, Kaiser 4
3-point goals – Hackett, Jones, Hunter, Mullen
Seneca (11-16) – Anderson 7, Grady 9, Jackson 12, Cudgel 3, Fant 2, Pennie 4, Henry 2.
Ballard (26-3) – Watkins 5, Ray 10, Mishler 2, Matchen 14, A. Martin 6, Richardson 2, Banks 19, M. Martin 4.
3-point goals – Grady 3, Ray 2.