Whitley avoids upset with OT win over Knox

CORBIN — Whitley County senior Abbey Estes turned in one of her best performances of the season, which allowed the Lady Colonels to survive an overtime scare against 51st District champion Knox Central during Tuesday’s first round action of the 13th Region Girls Tournament.

Estes poured in a game-high 30 points while hitting eight 3-pointers to lead her team to a 53-52 win over the Lady Panthers.

“She can play,” Whitley coach David Estes said. “She’s been a key player for us for five years. This isn’t the first game she’s made big shots for us, but it’s the biggest stage she’s made them on though. She bailed us out offensively tonight.

“But that’s the kind of team we have,” he added. “One night it might be Abbey, and one night it might be Sierra (Feltner). Another night it right be Lindi (Lawson), Kaelie (Frazier) or Reis Anderson, who had a huge game tonight. We’re a team and we’re made up of a lot of individuals, but we came together.”

Estes hit clutch shot after clutch shot throughout the game, and came through when her team needed her most during the third and fourth quarters when the Lady Colonels were staring at two seperate three-point deficits.

“It was a big game,” Abbey Estes said. “I just came out here and did what I needed to do. I wanted to lead my team to another game. I don’t know, I just came out, and I was hitting. I was ready and I didn’t want to go home.”

Whitley County held a slim 21-19 lead at halftime, and fought back from three-point deficit in the third quarter to take a 42-37 lead into the fourth quarter. Knox Central rallied behind the play of freshman Presley Partin and Emily Davis int he game’s final eight minutes to force overtime. Martin finished the game with 24 points on 8-of-9 shooting while Davis recorded a double-double with 12 points, and 10 rebounds.

“They had a new coach this year, and it took them a while to get their new system in, and then at the end of the year, he had a brutal schedule,” David Estes said. “I think that prepared them for the region tournament. They are a veridic team, and very worthy district champion. The (Presley) Partin girl is one of the toughest covers we’ve had this year.”

The Lady Panthers held a 52-51 edge with less than a minute remaining before seeing Estes’ basket at the 40-second mark turn out to be the game-winning shot.

“The pace was right for us tonight, but we just came up short,” Knox Central coach Jamie Sowers said. “This big floor, man, I could tell a difference with our girls. Our legs were gone a little faster that I thought. But we battled, and that’s been our team all year, we just kept battling back.

“We were there, and fought back from six, and then the game went back and forth. I just kept preaching to the girls, and they kept fighting. I’m really happy with my girls’ effort tonight — we just came up short.”

David Estes said he knew coming into the game his team would be in for a battle.

“In the postseason it’s all tough,” he said. “There are no easy games. We just wanted to survive and advance. We didn’t play as well offensively that we’re capable of. We had trouble getting the ball to the rim, and really had trouble getting the ball to the middle of floor. That’s what really spurns our offense. Luckily, we were able to make some 3s tonight that helped keep us going. I thought on the defensive end, we were solid. Early on we had some trouble with the Davis girl on the inside. It doesn’t matter if it’s one or 100, whether it’s pretty or not — it’s not a beauty contest. It’s about trying to get to the next round, and fortunately for us, we were able to live and play for another day.”

Both teams struggled shooting coming out of the game as the two teams combined to shoot 5-of-19 from the floor. Despite the Lady Colonels’ 3-of-10 shooting during the first eight minutes, Estes came up big hitting three 3-pointers while scoring nine of her 14 first half points during the period to give Whitley County an 11-6 lead heading into the second quarter.

Emily Davis kept Knox Central, who shot 2-of-9 from the floor in the first period, int he game by powering down low to score all six of her team’s points. Davis finished the first half with eight points and six rebounds.

The Lady Colonels misfired on seven of their first eight shot attempts in the second quarter, which allowed the Lady Panthers to rally and take a 14-13 edge with 4:29 remaining int he first half.

Two free throws by Presley Partin combined with baskets by Ryleigh Stafford and Davis gave Knox Central the one-point lead, but a free throw by Lindi Lawson along with baskets by Estes and Reis Anderson allowed Whitley County regain an 18-14 lead with 1:46 remaining in the half. Martin followed with a 3-pointer and a layup to give Knox Central a 19-18 edge at the :48 mark, but a 3-pointer by Estes with :31 remaining allowed Whitley County to take a 21-19 lead at halftime.

The Lady Colonels hit 6-of-21 shot attempts in the first half, which included a 4-of-14 effort from behind the arc. Knox Central was 7-of-20 from the floor, and out-rebounded Estes’ squad, 18-11.

The third quarter saw Estes start where she left off by knocking down her fifth 3-pointer of the game to increase her team’s lead to 24-19. But once again, Knox Central’s Partin had the answer cushioned in between a 3-pointer by teammate Abby Mills was nine points by Partin, as the Lady Panthers’ reclaimed the lead at 36-33 with 2:36 left in the quarter.

Estes continued her impressive play, and managed to get Whitley County the lead back again heading into the fourth quarter by knocking down her sixth and seventh 3-pointers. Her seventh trey combined with a last-second jumper by Sierra Feltner gave the Lady Colonels a 42-37 advantage going into the fourth quarter.

Just when it looked as if Whitley County was beginning to pull away, Knox Central managed to rally once again and force a 43-all tie with 4:06 remaining in regulation.

Martin knocked down another 3-pointer while free throws by Maddie Pennington allowed the Lady Panthers to open the quarter with a 6-1 run.

Estes’ eighth 3-pointer gave the Lady Colonels the lead back at 46-43 with 2:55 left, but two free throws, and an old-fashioned 3-point play by Partin gave Knox Central a slim 48-46 cushion.

The lead didn’t last long, though, as a cutback by Anderson tied the game at 48 apiece.

Both teams had chances to win during the final minute, but couldn’t convert, sending the game into overtime.

Maddie Pennington’s basket to open the extra period gave Knox Central a quick 50-48 lead, but Anderson’s old-fashioned 3-point play tipped the lead back into Whitley County’s favor at 51-50 with 3:09 remaining.

Davis’ putback with 1:52 left allowed Knox Central to reclaim a 52-51 edge, but it was short-lived as Estes’ basket with 40 seconds remaining turned out to be the game-winner. The Lady Panthers had a chance to win the game during the final seconds, but misfired on a shot attempt.