Bulldogs riding 12-game win streak into semifinals
Monday night was just the first step toward a greater goal for the Male girls basketball team.
The host Bulldogs clobbered Christian Academy of Louisville 80-49 in the Seventh Region Tournament quarterfinals.
It was the 12th straight win for Male (28-2), which is No. 3 in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings and chasing its second straight region title with an eye beyond that.
“We actually have a little chart downstairs (in the locker room) that has all the games we have to win to win state,” freshman power forward Cameron Browning said. “So this is one more step to our bigger goal, which is winning it all in the end.”
GALLERY: Male vs. CAL
The Bulldogs, who advanced to the state semifinals last year, can take another step toward winning their second regional in a row at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon when they play No. 13 Sacred Heart (23-7) in the semis at Valley. The Valkyries routed Central 84-60 Monday.
Led by the 6-foot-1 Browning, who scored a game-high 17 points, senior I’liyah Green (14 points) and sophomore Emilia Sexton (11 points), Male made quick work of the Centurions (18-12) in a region rematch.
MORE COVERAGE | Sacred Heart, Manual, Eastern advance in Seventh Region
The Bulldogs beat CAL 81-51 in a quarterfinal last year on their way to the region title. This time around they led 4-2 one minute into the game before reeling off a 16-0 run over the remainder of the first quarter.
“I really liked our matchups against them, but I also felt like CAL was the toughest draw of the first round,” Male coach Champ Ligon Jr. said. “I really didn’t expect us just to come out from the start and hammer them like that. I figured that, as the game progressed, we could wear them down and they would fatigue out, because they like to run. … I figured we could wear them down, but we just kind of laid the hammer down immediately.”
Continuing to utilize their superior size against the Centurions, who’s tallest starter was 5-foot-9 senior forward Emma Bowman, the Bulldogs outscored CAL 21-12 in the second quarter to lead 41-14 at halftime.
“In all sincerity that team is the type of team that we’d have to play our best game (to beat). We’d have to be playing up here,” CAL coach Perry White said, raising his hand above his head. “And they’d have to play their worst game. You’d have to get some ejections or somebody foul out; it was a horrible matchup for us, size-wise.”
Still, the Centurions showed some fight. CAL started the second half with an 8-0 spurt. The Bulldogs, though, responded with a 13-0 run of their own.
Browning scored 11 points in the third period, when Male outscored the Centurions 29-22.
“Cameron’s only a freshman, but she doesn’t always play like a freshman,” Ligon said. “She’s got unlimited potential and when she’s playing well, between her and I’liyah, it kind of gives us a two-headed monster on the inside because they’re both 6-1, 6-2 and a really intimidating presence.”
Junior guard Emma Wesley paced the Centurions with 15 points while senior Camryn White contributed 10.
“Nobody expected us to win that game,” Perry White said. “We hoped we’d win, we try to stay as positive as we can, but I mean the reality is, nobody wants to draw them. It’s the luck of the draw. Saturday when I pulled the pill, I’m like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding. We faced them last year, and it was the same result.’”
CAL (18-12) – White 10, Wesley 15, Conti 6, Bowman 9, Calhoun 4, McDonald 3, Mann 2.
Male (28-2) – Harbison 8, Sexton 11, Browning 17, Green 14, Owens 4, Kraft 3, Calvert 14, Wheat 3, Combs 3, Tillman 3.
3-pointers – Calvert 2, Conti 2, White 2, Bowman 1, Combs 1, Sexton 1, Tillman 1, Wheat 1.