LEXINGTON, Ky. – Erin Boley saved her best for last.
The senior forward scored a career-high 39 points and grabbed 10 rebounds Wednesday to lead Elizabethtown to a convincing 60-37 victory over Butler in the final of Lexington Catholic’s Traditional Bank Holiday Classic. In a matchup of two of the top three teams in The Courier-Journal’s preseason coaches’ poll, Boley helped the top-ranked Panthers (10-0) jump out to a big lead and never look back.
She missed her first shot, but would score on a putback. That started a stretch of seven straight baskets for the 6-foot-2 Notre Dame signee. She scored 11 of her points as E’town jumped out to a 19-6 lead over the No. 3 Bearettes (8-1) less than five minutes into the contest.
“Everything she got was in the scope of the offense,” coach Tim Mudd said of Boley, who made 11 of 15 shots, all three of her 3-point attempts and 14 of 15 free throws. “She didn’t force anything. She took what the defense gave her. That’s a sign of her maturity.”
As Boley went off, Butler’s Jaelynn Penn – one of the state’s top juniors – took to the bench after picking up two fouls in the first 4:13. She played less than eight minutes in the first half because of those fouls, but Butler coach Larry Just said that wasn’t the only reason for his team’s slow start.
“Having her on the floor makes a big difference for us in a lot of ways, but we had a lot of breakdowns,” he said.
Despite losing three key players from last year’s team to Division I colleges, Elizabethtown proved itself worthy of its poll placement by winning the Classic, annually one of the state’s toughest holiday tournaments, for the third straight year. The Lady Panthers won their four games by a margin of 23 points and also posted wins against No. 25 Scott County and No. 16 Bowling Green in the process.
“I think they’re actually better this year than they were last year in a lot of ways,” Just said.
Butler, which beat No. 2 Male in its season opener and knocked off No. 9 Mason County and No. 15 Mercy en route to the final, would get as close as 47-35 with 6:28 left.
But on E’town’s next trip down, the Lady Panthers worked the ball around ending with Boley’s third 3-pointer to make it 50-35 with 5:56 to go.
“I wasn’t looking for anything in particular,” said Boley, who earned tournament MVP honors by averaging 28.5 points in the four wins, on the shot that ended the Butler rally. “I think at that point in time we knew we just had to keep our composure. … I had an open three. I took it. It’s just what was there.”
Mercy 65, Bowling Green 62: The Jaguars (6-4) led by 16 in the third period before holding on to beat the Purples (9-2) in the tourney’s third-place game. Maria Schmitz’ transition layup with 40 seconds left gave Mercy its final margin. Bowling Green missed two chances for a game-tying shot in the final seconds.