HENDERSON – After a slow first half with a total of 24 points between both teams, a defensive battle was eminent as Lexington High and McNairy Central faced off in the District 14-AA semifinals.
But the Lady Tigers broke out for 24 points in the third quarter to beat the Lady Bobcats 52-29 at Chester County on Friday.
“I thought we rebounded really well in the first half, but we could not hit shots,” Lexington coach Bianca Thomas said. “We had no rhythm on offense in the first half and forced shots. In the second half, we started knocking down shots and picked up some steals for easy baskets.”
Lexington (18-6) advances to the district championship to play Bolivar on Monday at 7:30 p.m. McNairy Central (14-13) plays South Side in the consolation at 6 p.m.
Shots weren’t falling for either team in the first half as the teams went into the locker room tied 12-12 after 16 minutes of play.
But Lexington got its shooting touch in the third quarter as the Lady Tigers went on a 22-2 run to take a 34-16 lead with 1:27 remaining in the quarter.
Lexington senior Adi Hale jumpstarted the rally with three of the first four baskets in the quarter. Hale scored 12 points for the Lady Tigers.
“I came out dead,” Hale said. “We came in at halftime, and the coaches told me to step it up. I was playing slow, and I wasn’t myself.”
Hale said it wasn’t just the offense that changed the game in the third quarter.
“We were talking more on defense, and that was contributing to our offense,” Hale said. “It feels great to be back in the championship because we fell short of winning it last year. We just have to stay humble.”
The confidence gained from those early baskets allowed Lexington to put a little more pressure on the Lady Bobcats on defense, and that led to turnovers and easy baskets.
“We talked about finding our rhythm shooting at halftime,” Thomas said. “They threw some different defenses at us and had a box-and-1 on Adi and some chasers. When Adi hit shots and then Kaitlyn Kelly hit shots, it opened things up for us.”
The Lady Tigers also received a strong post game from Kaylie Grant, who finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Grant was left open under the basket as McNairy Central worked to defend Lexington’s quick guard play from Hale and Kaitlyn Kelley.
“We have been working on dump-down passes when Adi and Kaitlyn are drawing the defense,” Thomas said. “Kaylie is a big body underneath that is averaging 10 rebounds for us. She picked up 14 for us and played big for us tonight.”
South Side 47
The night began with an upset as the fourth-seeded Lady Tigers used a 21-point second quarter to beat top-seeded South Side.
The Lady Hawks (21-5) had their chances to pick up the win, but 10 missed free throws during an early stretch of the second half and finished 6-of-27 from the free throw line.
Nakeeta Franklin scored a game-high 22 points to lead Bolivar (15-11), while Alexius Futrell added 13 points.
South Side was led by Asia Currie with 12 points, and Cheyenne Cunningham added 10.
Michael Odom, 425-9754