Strong outside shooting — including five 3-pointers by Meghan Colley — sent the Sacred Heart basketball team moving forward in the Republic Bank/Coca-Cola Girls’ Louisville Invitational Tournament on Wednesday.
Colley scored a career-high 19 points and led the Valkyries’ 9-of-17 performance from 3-point range as they rolled past Eastern 60-45 in the second round at Bellarmine’s Knights Hall.
“We’ve been working on our threes,” SHA coach Donna Moir said. “I thought our shot selection, regardless of whether they went in or not, was good. We answered everything when they would kind of come at us and cut into our lead a little bit.”
The Valkyries (15-5) advanced to face top-ranked Elizabethown in Friday’s 7 p.m. quarterfinal in a rematch of last year’s state tournament first-round game won by E’town.
Wednesday’s victory helped Sacred Heart avenge a 55-53, last-second loss to Eastern on Dec. 16.
Sacred Heart came ready to play. Colley hit a 3 for the game’s first points, and the Eagles (13-4) played catch-up the rest of the way.
The Valkyries hit four threes in the first quarter to take a 20-14 lead and were up 31-23 at halftime. Sacred Heart had nine assists on 11 field goals in the first half and 15 assists on 20 baskets for the game. It also finished 11 of 12 from the foul line; Eastern hit just 6 of 14 free throws.
“That first half was offensively as good as we could play,” Moir said. “We hit shots when we had to, and we kind of came out with a little fire under us and got out to the lead.”
Meanwhile, Eastern coach Josh Leslie said his team did not come out fired up at all, and the Eagles paid the price. They got within 31-28 early in the third quarter, but Colley answered with five straight points to help SHA keep a cushion.
“I got good passes, good open looks, and I was just feeling it,” she said.
The margin got as big as 17 point in the second half, and Sacred Heart finished with a 35-20 advantage in rebounds.
“We thrive off our energy, and we had zero energy today,” Leslie said. “And they did what they should have done to us — stick it to us. When we’re just giving open threes in the corner, that tells us where our energy level is.
“… It’s as bad as I’ve felt after a game in a while. If you’re going to go down, at least go down swinging. … We took some punches, but we never threw one, though.”
Shavia Thompson led Eastern with 13 points, including three 3-pointers. Markeia Porter added 11 points and eight rebounds.
SHA freshman Kia Sivils, who played last season at Eastern as an eighth-grader, scored seven of her 14 points in the fourth quarter. She added five rebounds and four assists, and Moir praised her defense.
Sacred Heart (15-5) – Johnson 5, Colley 19, Samsel 8, Sivils 14, Randal 2, Berger 4, Taylor 8.
Eastern (13-4) – Holeman 2, Porter 11, Anthony 1, Goulding 3, Thompson 13, Kinnard 3, Mendoza 2 Collins 10.
3-point goals – Johnson, Colley 5, Samsel 2, Sivils; Goulding, Thompson 3, Kinnard, Collins 2.