BOWLING GREEN, Ky.
After winning the First Region championship Monday, Marshall County High School girls’ basketball coach Joseph Simmons had little time to gather film on first-round Sweet 16 opponent Perry County Central.
So he showed his team film of Marshall County’s 17-point loss to Perry County Central two seasons ago, when Lady Commodores star Kayla Rankin — then a sophomore — posted 25 points and 23 rebounds.
“Coaches don’t forget those numbers,” Simmons said.
Marshall County limited Rankin’s numbers in Thursday’s rematch, holding her to 11 points and eight rebounds — a big factor in the Lady Marshals’ 54-38 victory in the first round of the Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girls’ Sweet 16 at E.A. Diddle Arena.
Rankin, among seven finalists for Kentucky’s Miss Basketball award, entered the game averaging 28.4 points and 14.5 rebounds.
“We wanted to make sure we had two people around her at all times,” Simmons said. “We wanted to make contact with her when she cut across the lane. We wanted to limit her touches, and we wanted to force her out on the perimeter a little bit more.”
Bailey Greer had 20 points and four steals and Allie York added 16 points and nine rebounds as Marshall County (31-5) advanced to face the Corbin-Clark County winner in Friday’s 7:30 p.m. EDT quarterfinal.
York hit two 3-pointers and Greer hit another as the Lady Marshals shot 5 for 7 from behind the arc in building a 30-16 halftime lead.
Marshall County entered the game shooting 26 percent from 3-point range.
“I’m sure the people they talked to from our region said, ‘Let them shoot,’ ” Simmons said. “I’m a stats guy, and if I looked at our stats I’d say, ‘Guard us and let us shoot the 3.’ “
Perry County Central coach Randy Napier said that was, indeed, the plan.
“Sometimes you guess wrong,” he said. “We felt like we matched up better if we made them make shots from outside. Unfortunately for us they made them.”
Rankin’s tip-in with 1:06 left in the third quarter pulled the Lady Commodores (23-7) within 35-25, but that’s as close as they could get.
Rankin said Marshall County’s size — with three players 5 feet 10 or taller –was a big factor.
“It affected me a lot because I’m not used to seeing that many tall people,” she said.
Added Napier: “They made her work for everything, and she had a hard time getting her normal looks. I think their size and the number of big kids they threw at her had something to do with that.”