Raven Merriweather and DaiJia Ruffin are two of the best players in the Seventh Region, and the way they passed the ball to each other in Sacred Heart’s 79-68 victory over visiting Bullitt East on Friday night was impressive.
If Merriweather wasn’t looking for Ruffin, Ruffin was looking to see where Merriweather was, and that’s the way the two seniors combined for 14 assists and 39 points in the Valkyries’ second victory over the Lady Chargers this season.
Sacred Heart (22-6), the regional favorite off its No. 6 spot in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings, beat Bullitt East 55-39 on Jan. 25. The Lady Chargers, ranked No. 10, lost again despite a 28-point, seven-rebound effort by Lindsey Duvall.
Merriweather, headed for Bellarmine University next season, hit 10 of 15 shots for 20 points. She chimed in with five assists and six rebounds. Ruffin, a 5-foot-9 wing who has committed to Tennessee-Martin, hit 8 of 16 shots, including her only 3-point attempt, and had 10 rebounds and nine assists.
“Since the LIT, DaiJia and I have learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we’re playing well together,” Merriweather said. “DaiJia did a good job looking for me, and I was looking for her.”
Watching both of them from the stands was former Male High and University of Louisville star Henry Bacon. Merriweather is his great niece.
Sacred Heart coach Donna Moir also liked what she saw.
“You have to be playing your best basketball to win the Seventh Region,” Moir said. “We had 24 assists (as a team) and that’s pretty good. When DaiJia and Raven play together — and throw Gretchen (Samsel) in the mix — we can play well.”
Samsel, a junior, scored 17 points, hitting 5 of 9 shots, including 3 of 7 threes. Two of her threes helped stretch a 59-58 lead to 67-58 midway through the fourth quarter. Moir also praised the play of Ashley Johnson, who had nine points, five assists and two steals in her best performance since sustaining a concussion in a game against Assumption.
Ruffin said nine assists wasn’t a career high for her.
“I had 11 in one game last year (against Boyle County),” she said. “I think we played well together as a team tonight. We were all clicking, and when they started double-teaming me, we went to Samsel.”
Sacred Heart trailed Bullitt East 27-22 before going on a 20-2 spurt to lead 42-29 at the half. With Duvall scoring 13 points in the third quarter, Bullitt East crept to within 55-53, then tied it on two free throws by Raegan Williams early in the fourth quarter.
Williams had 12 points and five rebounds, and Courtney Pfister added 10 points and 10 rebounds for Bullitt East. The Lady Chargers (21-7) were under the direction of Crystal Scott, a sister to head coach Chris Stallings, who missed the game to be with his daughter, who underwent surgery.
Bullitt East is off until the district tournament, which begins next week.
Sacred Heart ends its regular season at Pleasure Ridge Park at 4:30 p.m. today.
– Duvall 28, Williams 12, Pfister 10, Fryman 8, Peak 3, Bass 4, Bain 3.Bullitt East (21-7)
– Merriweather 20, Ruffin 19, Samsel 17, Baisas 3, Johnson 9, Me. Colley 7, Taylor 4.Sacred Heart (22-6)
– Duvall 2, Fryman 2; Samsel 3, Baisas, Johnson, Ruffin.3-point goals