If there was one knock on the outstanding start for the Male High School girls’ basketball team this season, it was that the Lady Bulldogs hadn’t posted a victory over a Top 20 opponent.
After a rousing comeback Wednesday, there should be no doubts about Male’s legitimacy now.
The Lady Bulldogs overcame a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime and then cruised in the extra period to shock Manual 62-52 in a second-round game of the Republic Bank/Coca-Cola Louisville Invitational Tournament at Bellarmine University’s Knights Hall.
Male (16-1) – No. 16 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings – advanced to face No. 2 Henderson County (19-1) in Friday’s 5:30 p.m. quarterfinal. No. 17 Manual dropped to 17-6.
His team down 43-28, Male coach Champ Ligon Jr. said he challenged his team in the huddle before the start of the fourth quarter.
“At some point you have to realize you’re good and step up and play that way,” Ligon said. “It still took until the fourth quarter. … But I told them that even if you don’t win, go out and give it everything you have and go out swinging.”
I’Liyah Green posted 17 points and six rebounds to lead Male, which hit 17 of 31 shots (54.8 percent) in the second half and overtime. Emelia Sexton added 15 points and Logan Calvert 14 points.
Tonysha Curry scored 16 points and Krys McCune added 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead Manual, but neither was available down the stretch.
Manual coach Jeff Sparks said Curry suffered a cut on her eyeball with 4:24 left in the fourth quarter and was taken to a local hospital. McCune fouled out with 1:20 left in overtime.
“We got a little fatigued and made some silly decisions,” Sparks said. “We have to learn that under pressure our decision-making has to improve.”
McCune’s basket gave Manual a 45-28 lead early in the fourth quarter before Male turned up the pace and rallied.
Sexton’s basket pulled Male within 49-47 with 53 seconds left in regulation, and Manual committed a turnover six seconds later. After a Male timeout, Calvert sank a 17-foot jumper with 4.8 seconds left to tie it at 49 and force overtime.
“I told her in the huddle, ‘You’re going to break back and be wide-open,’” Ligon said of Calvert. “I said, ‘Are you ready to knock down that shot?’ She was kind of quiet and just nodded her head.”
Sexton made a layup off the overtime tip to give Male a 51-49 lead it never relinquished. McCune’s basket pulled Manual within 53-52 with 1:27 left, but Green answered 7 seconds later for a 55-52 lead.
Male hit 7 of 8 free throws in the final minute to seal it.
“We’d been playing their game the whole night,” Ligon said of the first three quarter. “Let’s go down playing our game, which is getting up and down the floor and pressing. … We finally got the game at our pace, and good things happened.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and followed on Twitter @kyhighs.
MANUAL 15 13 15 6 3 – 52
MALE 12 5 11 21 13 – 62
Manual (18-5) – Te. Curry 2, Ballard 2, MacBlaine 6, To. Curry 16, Prentice 3, Johnson 8, McCune 15.
Male (16-1) – Harbison 6, Kraft 2, Sexton 15, Owens 2, Jackson 4, Browning 2, Green 17, Calvert 14.
3-point goals – To. Curry; Sexton.