“We made our best effort, but Westmoreland really played well tonight,” said Lady Bulldogs head coach Larry White, whose team fell to 15-19 with the season-ending loss. “Lindsay Jones, she’s the deal. She’s one of the best players we’ve played against, and I’ve said that all along.”
"They really feed off of her, and they knocked some big shots down early in the game tonight to really help her,” White added. “They’re a good basketball team.”
Westmoreland (27-1) jumped out to an early 10-0 lead with 5:29 left in the first quarter as senior Kathryn Urell went 3-for-3 from the floor, including a pair of three-pointers.
However, the Lady Eagles would not score the rest of the period, allowing Red Boiling Springs – on a three-pointer and a lay-in by junior Skylar Aguilar and a three-point play by freshman Layce Colter – to pull to within 10-8.
“We talked about getting an early lead, and that definitely happened,” said Westmoreland head coach Cherie Abner. “Unfortunately, we let it slip pretty quick.”
The Lady Eagles then scored the first 12 points of the second quarter – including six by Jones and four by senior Miranda Hall – to stretch Westmoreland’s lead to 22-8 with 2:51 left in the first half.
After Red Boiling Springs senior Ashton Gentry scored on a put-back with 2:33 remaining in the second period, Westmoreland – on back-to-back baskets by senior Kelsey Holmes and Jones – extended its lead to 26-10 at halftime.
“We got killed the second quarter,” said White, whose team never got closer than 14 points in the second half. “To be honest, down 16 at halftime, that’s virtually the ballgame.”
Red Boiling Springs fared little better in the third quarter, scoring just six points on three-pointers by Gentry and junior Shannon Sleeper.
Meanwhile, Westmoreland struggled offensively during the third period as well, scoring only nine points while hitting just three of 11 field goal attempts and making just three of six free throw attempts.
“We just didn’t look really in synch offensively,” Abner said. “We missed a lot of lay-ups and a lot of free throws. But, you can’t complain when you come out ahead in these games.”
Colter and Sleeper, who both scored seven points in the fourth quarter, led the Lady Bulldogs with 10 points each while Aguilar and Gentry added five points apiece. Senior Tess Copas rounded out the scoring for Red Boiling Springs with three points.
Gentry paced Red Boiling Springs in rebounding with five while Colter and Copas dished out two assists each. Copas and Gentry led the Lady Bulldogs with two steals apiece.
For the game, Red Boiling Springs made 12 of 33 field goal attempts – a 36.4 percent average – and was a perfect 3-for-3 from the free throw line while turning the ball over 16 times.
In addition to Jones, Urell and Holmes reached double figures in scoring with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Hall added four points while sophomore Rachel Evans had two points.
Jones and Urell had seven rebounds each for Westmoreland, which out-rebounded Red Boiling Springs 29-12. Holmes, Urell and junior Nicole Hallfrisch dished out three steals apiece while four Lady Eagles – Hall, Holmes, Jones, Urell – had two steals.
For the game, Westmoreland made 19 of 42 field goal attempts – a 45.2 percent average – and hit 16 of 21 tries from the free throw line while turning the ball over 12 times.
“We didn’t take care of the ball,” said Abner, whose team committed six turnovers in the first quarter. “We’ve got to work on that.”
With the win, Westmoreland advanced to a semifinal contest on Monday, Feb. 25, against Clarkrange, which received a first-round bye after its first-round opponent, Friendship Christian, was barred from region play after using an ineligible player during a district tournament win over Merrol Hyde.
“They’ve gotten the best of us the last couple of years,” said Abner. “We know their history and their tradition. We’re hoping to keep it close and get one Monday.”
Despite the loss, White said afterward that he was pleased with how his team fared this season, especially after losing four starters from last year’s team that went 31-4.
Three – point guard Rachel Painter, shooting guard Kelly Rich and forward Caylie Dickens – graduated last spring, while post Laken Leonard – who led the Lady Bulldogs in both scoring and rebounding and was a finalist for the Class A Miss Basketball Award as a freshman, transferred to intra-district rival Jackson County.
Gentry, the team’s lone returning starter, played the entire season despite re-tearing a surgically repaired anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during a preseason conditioning drill.
“With the adversity that this team had, I’m tickled to death to win 15 games,” White said. “No team should have to go through what we’ve went through this year, and it’s just a shame for them and I really hate it for them, because we had high expectations. But when you lose the caliber of the players we lost, those things will happen to you.”