The Bell County Lady Cats advanced to the semifinals of the 13th Region Tournament with a 63-47 win Tuesday over Lynn Camp.
The Lady Cats had three players in double figures, led by junior guard Maci Morris with 20 points. Jessica Sanders added 16 points, while Morgan Garnett added 11.
Lynn Camp coach Richard Jones knew it would be a tough matchup for his Lady Cats, who were able to keep it close for the first half.
“They’ve got a good basketball team. The way they played tonight, I can see the reason why they might be the team to beat,” said Jones. “I was proud of my girls. They played hard, especially my three seniors. In the end, Bell County just had too much for us to overcome.”
The Lady Cats were lights out in the first half, connecting on 8-of-11 from behind the arc.
The sharpshooting allowed Bell County to jump out to a 20-9 lead after the first quarter, but the Lady Wildcats clawed their way back in the second.
Down 30-16, Lynn Camp went on a 10-2 run to end the first half, highlighted by eight points from Merita Burke. The Lady Wildcats were able to take some momentum into the locker room, cutting the lead to 32-26 heading into the half.
“We were down six at the half, but we were lucky to even be in the game, with the way they shot the basketball,” said Jones. “We kept playing hard and stayed in and caused a few turnovers. That allowed us to get back into the game.”
The third quarter was the deciding factor in the game. The Lady Cats held Lynn Camp to just one field goal in the period and outscored the Lady Wildcats 16-4. Lynn Camp’s first basket did not come until just over three minutes left in the quarter. Bell County took a 48-30 lead heading into the final quarter.
“The third quarter, they turned up their defense a little bit and we didn’t react very well to it,” said Jones. “We scored four points in that quarter, and Bell County is not the type of team that you can just score four points in a quarter on. If you do, they’re going to extend that lead on you.”
Lynn Camp would give a valiant effort in the fourth quarter, but would not get the lead any closer than 15 points. Bell County turned it over to the reserves to end the game.
Even in their loss, the Lady Wildcats held true to their trademark, which is playing hard for four quarters.
“For someone to tell me that my team plays hard and is scrappy, that is the best compliment that I could ever get as a coach,” said Jones. “All you can ask from your kids is to play hard. I felt like our kids did that all year and did that again tonight. That’s what kept us in the game early.”
With the win, the Lady Cats set up a rematch of last year’s 13th Region championship against the Corbin Lady Redhounds. Bell County lost that game and it promises be another classic on Saturday in the semifinals.
“It will be a very big game. They have a nice basketball team. We’re very familiar with one another,” said Bell County coach David Teague. “We’ll take the next couple days and try to get ourselves ready and, hopefully, be ready Saturday afternoon. It should be a good basketball game.”
13th Region Tournament
First Round at The Arena
Bell County 63, Lynn Camp 47
Bell County 20 12 16 15 – 63
Lynn Camp 9 17 4 17 – 47
Bell County (63) – Morris 20, Sanders 16, Garnett 11, Smith 4, Johnson 4, Collins 4, Taylor 2, Howard 2
Lynn Camp (47) – Wilson 17, Burke 13, May 8, Bryant 7, Miller 2