Stacy Pendleton couldn’t watch his Manual High School girls’ team win its third consecutive regional championship Tuesday night, which might not have been such a bad thing for a fan of good basketball.
After all, the Lady Crimsons shot just 28.2 percent and committed 27 turnovers, but they still held on for a 36-34 victory over Assumption in the final of the Class Act Federal Credit Union Seventh Region Tournament at Valley.
“It was an ugly game,” said assistant coach Tim Holman, filling in as coach for Pendleton, who is serving a three-game suspension. “Shots weren’t falling for either team. … It isn’t a pretty win, but a win’s a win.”
Destony Curry scored a game-high 13 points as Manual (23-8) — No. 5 in the The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings — earned a chance to defend its state title in next week’s Sweet 16 in Bowling Green. Manual will face No. 4 Mercy (20-10) in a first-round game March 14 at 2:30 p.m. Mercy beat Butler 66-54 in the Sixth Region final.
Pendleton received two technical fouls and was ejected from Friday’s 62-60 overtime victory over Sacred Heart in a regional semifinal, resulting in an automatic three-game suspension by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association. He followed the game via Twitter and by phone through a family member who was at the game. After the final buzzer, Pendleton entered the gym and celebrated with his team.
“This is the fourth regional title I’ve been involved with, and this is probably the best one,” said Pendleton, who also led the Lady Crimsons to the regional title in 2008. “To see them do this without me means a lot. It’s amazing.”
No. 13 Assumption (22-8) lost to Manual in the regional final for the second straight season. Katie Friedrich scored 11 points and Nora Kiesler had eight points, 16 rebounds and four blocks, but the Rockets committed 20 turnovers and shot just 22.9 percent (11 of 48).
“We turned them over and turned them over and just couldn’t score at the other end,” Assumption coach Steve Small said. “(Manual) did a good job making us take shots we didn’t want to. … They played great defense.”
Manual led 19-7 midway through the second quarter and was ahead 29-18 after Katie Long’s 3-pointer with 4:55 left in the third.
But the Rockets rallied, pulling to 31-29 on Friedrich’s free throw with 5:37 left in the game.
“After the first quarter, I thought we controlled the basketball game,” Small said.
Curry’s 3-pointer with 5:09 left gave Manual a 34-29 lead, and neither team scored over the next 41/2 minutes.
After both teams traded two free throws, Erin Mullen’s basket pulled Assumption to 36-33 with 25.3 seconds left. Allison Zickel hit 1 of 2 free throws with 13.8 seconds remaining.
Manual’s Long missed two free throws with 12.7 seconds left, giving Assumption a final opportunity. Sliter missed a shot in the lane, but the Rockets got the ball back with four seconds left when the rebound went out of bounds.
Sliter had a final shot , but her off-balance 3-point try at the buzzer was off, triggering Manual’s celebration .
“It’s all for Coach P,” Curry said. “He didn’t deserve what he got, so we’re doing this for him. We have to defend our title from last year. We’re on a mission.”
Holman said he’s looking forward to the state tournament next week.
“These seniors have put in four years … I’m just happy for them,” Holman said. “They earned every bit of this.”
Manual (23-8) – Styles 8, Curry 13, Prentice 6, Long 5, Mitchell 2, McCune 2.
Assumption (22-8) – Sliter 6, Zickel 1, Hunter 3, Mullen 3, Kiesler 8, Friedrich 11, Kaiser 2.
3-point goals – Curry 3, Prentice 2, Long; Hunter.
Dr. Rudy J. Ellis Sports Medicine Center all-tournament team: Kayla Styles, Destony Curry, Aricka Prentice (Manual); Katie Friedrich, Nora Kiesler (Assumption); Tearra Banks (Ballard); DaiJia Ruffin (Sacred Heart); Janna Lewis (Male); Sabrina Jackson (Seneca); Chazney Jones (Central); China Dow (Christian Academy).