Madison Raque came to the rescue for Eastern’s Lady Eagles, but it took a fiery halftime talk from coach Josh Leslie to get her going.
Raque, a senior who came to Eastern last year from Bossier City, La., scored all 14 of her points — including 9 of 11 at the free throw line — in the second half to lead the Lady Eagles to a 48-46 victory over host Christian Academy in a Girls’ 28th District semifinal game Monday night.
“Madison wasn’t herself tonight,” Leslie said after Eastern (17-7) qualified to play Ballard (21-4) in Thursday’s 7 p.m. final at CAL. “She had a sub-par first half and we challenged her. Considering the halftime talk we had, she got it going in the second half. We needed every point she made.”
Ballard, ranked No. 9 statewide in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings, eliminated Kentucky Country Day 72-14 behind Javonna Layfield’s 18 points. Ballard and Eastern split two earlier games this season. Ballard nipped the Lady Eagles 55-53 in the Louisville Invitational Tournament Jan. 29. Eastern evened the score with a 56-49 win on Feb. 8.
Both teams will advance to the Seventh Region tourney next week.
Raque, who will play for North Carolina-Wilmington next season, went 2 for 9 shooting and didn’t make her first field goal until 5:00 remained in the third period. She later hit a three-pointer to put Eastern ahead 28-26.
“I was struggling,” Raque said. “Coach yelled at me at halftime and that kind of got me going. I just put my faith in God and that helped me pull through.”
Until Raque started clicking, Jade Spaulding paced Eastern. She wound up with 15 points, hitting 5 of 12 shots. Claire Hart had 8 points and 7 rebounds for the Lady Eagles.
Two threes by Brittany Mumford gave CAL a 38-36 lead after three quarters. A goal by Spaulding tied it at 38-38 before CAL — led by McKenzie Campbell’s 15 points and 13 rebounds — went on a 6-0 spurt to lead 44-38 with 4:00 left. Baskets by Hart and Spaulding moved Eastern within 44-42 before Spaulding fouled out with 1:59 left.
Campbell, a 6-foot senior who dominated the game in the first half with 8 points and 10 rebounds, suffered a high sprain to her left ankle and was helped off the court with 3:02 remaining and CAL ahead 44-42.
Hart tied the game at 44-44 with 1:36 left. Raquel Reese hit two of four foul shots to put CAL up 46-46 at the 0:34.6 mark. Twice in the game, Raque was fouled on a three-point shot, and both times she made all three foul shots. The last time put Eastern in front 47-46 with 0:18.1 to go.
As CAL’s Lindsey Dunn was bringing the ball upcourt, Raque slapped the ball away from her and toward the Eastern basket. Raque ran and dove for the ball, and was fouled. She made one of two free throws for a 48-46 lead with :02.4 left.
“I was honestly praying I could come up with a play to help my team win,” she said.
“Our game plan was to go inside (to Campbell) because she has improved so much,” CAL coach Don Rice said. “At the end, we were supposed to attack, but we had a lazy pass and Raque slapped it away. Emma Bowman got 10 rebounds for us, but we missed 13 of 24 free throws” (Eastern only made 17 of 30).
* The Lady Bruins led 10-0 before Hannah Lally scored for KCD with 3:23 left in the first quarter. With Ballard leading 38-2 at halftime, the second half was played under a running clock because of the 35-point difference.Ballard 72, KCD 18:
Aundrea Matchen and Andrea Patterson tallied 12 points apiece for Ballard. Lally scored 10 of KCD’s 16 points in the second half and finished with 12 for the game.