The Male High School girls’ basketball team hadn’t posted a victory in the LIT since 2001, but the Lady Bulldogs showed Tuesday why they expect many more in the next few years.
Freshman Logan Calvert scored 12 points and 6-foot-1 sophomore I’liyah Green added 11 points, seven rebounds and two blocks to lead Male to a 52-34 victory over Assumption in the first round of the Republic Bank/Coca-Cola Louisville Invitational Tournament at Bellarmine University’s Knights Hall.
Male reached the semifinals of the 2001 LIT but had gone 0-5 in the event since then. Male also had lost 12 straight meetings against Assumption since the 2000-01 season.
“Every step is a baby step, and every time we can do something to elevate the program a little higher than it’s been is a credit to the young ladies,” said first-year Male coach Champ Ligon Jr. “I think the future of Male High looks really bright.”
Male outscored Assumption 34-18 in the second half and improved to 13-6 this season. The Lady Bulldogs showed off depth – 11 players scored – and youth. Of the 12 players who saw action, there was one senior, two juniors, three sophomores, three freshmen and three eighth-graders.
“I think we’re going to be really good, but we’re still young and have a lot to learn,” said Green, daughter of former University of Louisville football player Ibn Green. “We’re working together and keeping each other up.”
Leah Mattingly hit 3 of 7 3-point tries and scored 13 points to lead Assumption (5-13), which lost its ninth straight game after shooting just 27.3 percent (9 of 33) and committing 27 turnovers.
But even worse for the Rockets is the news that 6-foot-6 center Nora Kiesler may not return to the team after suffering a concussion against Sacred Heart on Jan. 19. Assumption coach Steve Small said Kiesler – ranked among the top juniors in the state – hasn’t returned to school since suffering the concussion and will miss at least the next two weeks.
“We’re not a great basketball team and we’re young … but we have to find our way through it,” Small said. “Sometimes you play like the season is over. I have to find a way to get a little more passion back into what we’re doing.”
Green played just three minutes in the first half after picking up two fouls, but Male still held an 18-16 lead at the break.
Green made the most of her return, posting nine points and three rebounds in the third quarter and scoring just before the buzzer to give Male a 36-26 lead.
“The positive is that we still had the lead (at halftime),” Ligon said. “We felt if we could keep her on the floor in the second half we could do some damage.”
Morgan Smith’s free throw pulled Assumption within 36-27 with 7:42 left in the fourth quarter, but that’s as close as it would get. Calvert hit a 3-pointer and Green added a basket to push the Lady Bulldogs’ lead to 41-28 with 6:25 remaining.
Green said beating Assumption – which is in the 26th District with Male – was just as important as winning an LIT game.
“It means a lot because a lot of people thought we’d lose to Assumption, and people were saying they’re better than us,” she said. “We just ignored them and played hard.”
– Fussenegger 2, Deeley 3, L. Monaghan 4, Janes 4, Mattingly 13, Steinmetz 5, Smith 3.Assumption (5-13)
– Kraft 3, Sexton 4, Harbison 5, Vestal 2, Howard 2, Owens 2, Jackson 7, Gainey 2, Hogan 2, Green 11, Calvert 12.Male (13-6)
Mattingly 3, Steinmetz; Kraft, Calvert 2.3-point goals: