Thanks to Assumption High School’s dominant second-half run, Friday night’s regional semifinal against Ballard went quickly from nail-biter to no contest.
The Rockets got 21 straight points spanning the third and fourth quarters to put away Tearra Banks-led Ballard 49-36 in the Class Act Federal Credit Union Seventh Region Tournament at Valley.
Assumption (22-7), No. 13 in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings, used 14 points and nine rebounds from 6-foot-6 sophomore Nora Kiesler in advancing to Tuesday’s final against the winner of the Manual-Sacred Heart semifinal later Friday.
Banks, a 6-4 Austin Peay signee, had a strong performance in her final high school game with 22 points and seven rebounds, but the No. 6 Bruins (26-4) were undone by their 61/2-minute scoreless stretch after taking a 19-17 third-quarter lead.
“It was a great effort by our team against a very solid Ballard team,” Assumption coach Steve Small said. “We knew they scored … 65 points a game on average, and we don’t give up but 40 points a game, so it was going to be who was going to dictate — their offense or our defense? Our defense was very, very good tonight.”
Banks scored four straight points after halftime to give Ballard the lead with 5:39 to play in the third, but the Rockets surged with 15 straight points before the end of the period, capped by Brandy Hunter’s 3-pointer.
Dee Dee Sliter broke free for a layup and a foul on the inbound play to start the fourth quarter, and Assumption’s lead soon grew to 38-19. It was too much for Ballard to make up.
“That really is what gave us the game,” Kiesler said. “… Once we made that run it was all about keeping up intensity.”
The Bruins shot only 22.2 percent in the second half and 25.9 percent for the game.
“We just couldn’t make a shot,” Ballard coach Frank Wright said. “It was like we were playing golf, and how it is with my putts. … We had a cold spell, and they made some baskets and stretched it out. … We couldn’t overcome the deficit.”
Aundrea Matchen added 11 points, nine rebounds and five steals for the Bruins, who had only two other scorers — with two points and one point, respectively.
Wright said the 21-0 drought might have been the toughest stretch for the team all season.
“We were reeling,” he said.
Banks can be one of the toughest matchups in the city, but Kiesler, who had University of Louisville coach Jeff Walz in the stands watching her play, was hard to handle in her own right.
Kiesler made 5 of 10 shots, including a 3-point basket, posted up hard, ran the floor and altered shots on defense.
“The way we look at it, they had to guard Nora, not, ‘Nora, what can you do to stop Banks?’ ” Small said.
Said Wright: “She’s a force.”
Assumption’s Katie Friedrich, a recent Lindsey Wilson signee, contributed a solid all-around game with 13 points and five boards, and Sliter had 11 points and seven assists.
“I just think we had a great team effort,” Small said. “I think everybody did their job. That was our whole motto.”
Ballard (26-4) – Banks 22, Matchen 11, Martin 2, Ray 1.
Assumption (22-7) – Kiesler 14, Friedrich 13, Sliter 11, Hunter 5, Kaiser 4, Mullen 2.
-point goals – Matchen; Hunter, Kiesler, Friedrich.