RICHMOND - The Mustangs' offensive struggles in the first half of Saturday's Touchstone Energy All "A" Classic semifinal could have led to disaster.
Bishop Brossart missed 18 of its first 20 shots and scored just eight first-quarter points in the showdown with University Heights, but still as halftime approached the scoreboard didn't show the signs of an impending blowout.
"We were getting good looks early on," Bishop Brossart coach Mike Code said. "I don't know that we could have gotten better looks than we were. We just felt like the shots were going to start to fall."
And eventually they did.
The Mustangs (20-3) trailed by just six points with five minutes left in the second quarter, but rallied to re-take the lead before halftime. Brossart carried that momentum over to the second half and went on to pick up a shockingly lopsided 58-38 win over UHA (11-10).
Troy Cooper had a game-high 23 points and 12 rebounds, Jimmy Uebel had 14 points and Bryan Niemeyer had 12 points and eight rebounds as the Mustangs earned just their second trip to the finals of the All "A" Classic.
Bishop Brossart will take on defending champion Bardstown at 3 p.m. today at McBrayer Arena. The Tigers defeated Hazard 63-59 in Saturday's other semifinal.
"I'm not going to make any excuses," UHA coach Phil Keller said. "But, it was a game where we never could get any rhythm on either end of the court. And I think we kind of hung our heads a little."
The Blazers own a record seven All "A" Classic titles and was making a record 14th appearance in the event (40-7 overall record), but they couldn't take advantage of the Mustangs' early offensive struggles. UHA shot just 30 percent in the opening half and were noticeably bothered by Bishop Brossart's physical style.
"They played with a lot of heart and enthusiasm," Keller said. "They didn't do anything fancy."
UHA was one-of-14 from three-point range, hit just three-of-10 free throws and had 16 turnovers. In the second half, the Mustangs shot 48 percent and hit 12-of-13 free throws as they pulled away late.
Cooper provided a big spark for the Mustangs, especially in the second half. The 6-foot-5 senior center turned in a standout performance against a much taller player (UHA's 6-foot-11 senior center Ryan Langhi). He connected on seven-of-17 field goal attempts and was nine-of-11 from the free throw line.
"I just tried to keep moving," Cooper said. "Get open, keep him on the run and clear out for our guards."
Tyshwan Edmondson had 13 points and seven rebounds for UHA, while Daquan Brown, Marcus Reeves and Scott Hopson all had six points.
Bardstown may not have been considered one of the favorites heading into this year's All "A" Classic, but the defending champions are just one win away from a second straight title.
The Tigers hit 11-of-12 free throws in the final minutes to hold off a late charge by Hazard and pick up a 63-59 win in Saturday's semifinals. Corey Hall had 15 points and hit three three-pointers and Justin Edelen added 14 points and a team-high six rebounds as Bardstown stayed undefeated all-time in the All "A" Classic (7-0 in two appearances).
"We struggled at times (early in the season)," Bardstown coach Gary Goode said. "But, as of late we've just started coming together and when you do that it means a lot."
The Tigers did not return a starter from the team that won the All "A" title last year in its first-ever appearance in the tournament, but that relative inexperience hasn't been much of a problem so far. After escaping with a one-point win in the opening round against Shawnee, Bardstown blasted Paintsville in the quarterfinals and then never surrendered the lead after building a 34-23 advantage at halftime against Hazard.
The Tigers limited standout point guard Justin Hicks to 16 points on six-of-25 shooting and held the Bulldogs to 36 percent shooting, including five-of-26 from three-point range.
"The first half we didn't play very well," Hazard coach Lewis Morris said. "We were out-of-synch. We didn't defend and we didn't rebound."
Michael Campbell had a team-high 18 points for Hazard, the 2004 All "A" Classic champs, while Wenquel Graves nine points, three rebounds and two assists.
RICHMOND - It didn't take long for Lexington Christian Academy to turn a highly-anticipated All "A" Classic quarterfinal match-up into a big-time blowout.
The Lady Eagles neutralized Carroll County's All-State guard/forward Whitney Ballinger early, then used a 16-0 run fueled by a suffocating press to roll to a 69-41 win Friday at McBrayer Arena. Anna Martin had 20 points and eight rebounds, Courtney Clifton had 15 points and seven assists and Emily London finished with 12 points as LCA advanced to the semifinals for the second time in the last three years.
"I had the feeling that this was either going to be a close, nip-and-tuck, four-quarter game or it was going to be a blowout," LCA coach Jason Seamands said. "The question was were they going to be able to handle our press. If they were able to handle it, then it would be a four-quarter game, but they weren't."
LCA's press forced 19 first-half turnovers, which led to 16 points and a 45-15 halftime lead. Carroll County never led but pulled even at 6-6 on a Amber Girdy basket mid-way through the first quarter.
The Lady Panthers wouldn't score again until a Ballinger lay-up two minutes into the second quarter.
"They are for real," Carroll County coach Randy Mefford said of LCA. "They came at you with a lot of pressure. They were just better than us in every aspect of the game."
The Lady Eagles kept applying the pressure and pushed their lead to as much as 42 points in the third quarter. LCA shot 47 percent, had 19 steals and forced 31 turnovers. Carroll County was three-of-20 from three-point range and shot 35 percent.
Ballinger, a senior who was has already committed to Western Kentucky, finished with just nine points, well below her average, on three-of-12 shooting. She also added a team-high 10 rebounds in 27 minutes of action.
"Every time she caught the ball she had bodies around her," Seamands said. "You could tell that she was getting frustrated."
Girdy connected on eight-of-15 field goal attempts and had a team-high 16 points.
LCA will face Lyon County at 10:30 a.m. today in the semifinals.
Newport Central Catholic's defense was dominant during a lopsided win over Harlan in the first round of the Touchstone Energy All "A" Classic, but stunningly it was even more impressive Friday in the quarterfinals.
The Thoroughbreds (14-7) forced 17 turnovers, allowed just seven field goals and held Bardstown to 17 percent shooting as they picked up a 44-24 victory at McBrayer Arena. Whitney Cundiff had a team-high 14 points and 13 rebounds as NCC rolled to an easy win despite shooting just 32 percent, including a two-of-14 performance from three-point range.
"I tell the girls that if you play hard and rebound, that even if you have an off shooting night you can still find a way to win," Newport Central Catholic coach Christie McDonald said. "We played our best defense of the season today."
Harlan missed 13 of its first 15 field-goal attempts and shot just 21 percent in a 64-31 loss Wednesday to Newport Central Catholic. The Thoroughbreds took a 22-16 lead into halftime against Bardstown (15-6), then allowed just two field goals in the second half and only three points in the fourth quarter.
Shanissa Douglas (10 points) and Candyce Lewis (seven points) were the only Lady Tigers to record a field goal.
"I was really impressed with Newport Central Catholic's effort and intensity," Bardstown coach Paul Stone said. "They got after us and made us play their way. We like to get up and down the court, but they made us take some bad shots."
Courtney Sandfoss finished with eight points, Shannon Klei had four points, four assists and three steals and Mariah Cutter had seven points and four rebounds.
Newport Central Catholic will face Paris at 9 a.m. today in the semifinals. The Thoroughbreds are making their first appearance in the All "A" Classic since losing in the semis four years ago.
The Lady Hounds found just enough offense to pick up another, hard-fought, low-scoring All "A" Classic victory.
Paris (11-7) trailed by six points with 5:26 left in fourth quarter, but put together a 12-1 game-ending run to defeat Somerset 27-22 Friday in the quarterfinals at McBrayer Arena. The Lady Hounds wrapped up the victory by hitting five-of-eight free throws in the final minutes.
"We don't score a lot of points," Paris coach Terrance Brooks said. "We focus on defense and our kids know if they don't play defense they won't get in the game. If we can keep the game slow, then that's to our advantage."
Paris slowed things down considerably in the first round against Paintsville, especially in the second half, and was able to grind out a 46-41 victory. The Lady Hounds shot just 38 percent Wednesday and struggled even more in the quarterfinal - connecting on only nine-of-37 field goal attempts.
Somerset (14-9) was even more anemic offensively. The Briar Jumpers shot just 19 percent and were one-of-14 from three-point range. Caiti Cowan (six-of-17 field goals, 14 points), Hillary Kerr (six points) and Breanna Jones (two points) were the only players to score for Somerset.
"We just couldn't find a way to put it in the basket," Somerset coach Chris Adkins said. "You go one-of-14 from three-point range you are not going to win many games."
Lyon County connected on 10-of-12 free throws in the final three minutes to hang on for a 63-59 win over Cumblerland County in Friday's All "A" Classic quarterfinals at McBrayer Arena.
Allison Mussato (11 rebounds) and Abbey McLeod (16 rebounds) both had 17 points, Hayley Parrent added 15 points and Olivia Akridge had 12 points for the Lady Lyons (16-6).
Laura Fletcher had a team-high 21 points for Cumberland County (18-3).
The Lady Panthers tied the game (53-53) on a three-pointer by Kendra McIntyre with 2:01 left, but Parrent sealed the win with two free throws with 11.4 seconds remaining.
Lyon County will take on Lexington Christian Acad-emy at 10:30 a.m. today in the semifinals.
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