Early the third quarter of Thursday’s Eastern Kentucky Conference Tournament championship, East Carter senior center Kelsey Stumbo blocked Fleming County forward Martina Lytle’s shot.
Less than 30 seconds later, the Lady Raiders’ Bryana Greenhill knocked down an 18-footer.
It was one of many pivotal moments in East Carter’s 68-48 win at Rowan County High School’s Warren H. Cooper Gymnasium.
“I thought we played some really good basketball in some spurts,” East Carter coach Hager Easterling said. “We were playing a hot team … I thought we shared the ball really well. We were patient, and we found the open person. We don’t have two or three designated people that we want to shoot the ball.”
The win gave East Carter (4-0) back-to-back EKC crowns for the first time in school history, which junior forward Kaylee Limings thinks is a big deal. “It means that we’re a hard-working team,” she said.
Megan Stickler led the Lady Raiders with 15 points and nine rebounds. Greenhill was next with 12 points, Haley Hall added another 11, and Kristen Mayo served seven of her team’s 15 assists.
Stickler, Greenhill, Hall and Mayo were just the beginning of Fleming County’s frustration. East Carter: out-rebounded the Lady Panthers, 40-27 (including 18-9 in offensive boards); converted 20 points off turnovers to the Lady Panthers’ 10; forced 19 Fleming County miscues; hit seven 3-pointers to Fleming County’s one; scored 15 points off the bench to the Lady Panthers’ four; and grabbed a 14-4 edge in second-chance points.
Fleming County coach Kristy Orem thought her team mostly handled East Carter’s pressure defense, but she needed about half a nanosecond to determine the main reason for what happened.
“Rebounds,” Orem said. “ … Other than that, I was really pleased with our overall effort. We gave up way too many second-chance points … we played a new (Lady Raider 1-2-2) defense we’d never played before in a game situation.”
Limings’ six points and an Abby Damron 3-pointer at the buzzer pulled the Lady Raiders to a 14-14 tie after one quarter.
At times, interior passing was Fleming County's (4-1) forte. An example: Cristi Peterson’s right-to-left assist on Katie Pfeffer’s eight-footer a little less than three minutes to play in the period.
The Lady Panthers earned their share of the tie thanks to Lytle’s six points. Peterson led her team at halftime with eight.
A Limings layup (on Greenhill’s assist) opened the second quarter, but Peterson’s bucket re-tied the score at 16-all.
It was the last time Fleming County (4-10) had a sniff of the lead.
Fleming County shot 50 percent from the field for the half (10-of-20), but Steward’s field goal with 2:35 before intermission was the only field goal over the final 4:20.
Lytle led Fleming County with 15 points. Peterson was next with 13 points, and Steward added nine points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Fleming Co. 72
Morgan Co. 36
Thanks to a 16-4 first-quarter outburst, the defending 16th Region champion Panthers won their second straight EKC and pretty much decided the outcome not too long after the pregame introductions.
That and junior forward Wilder Williams’ career-high 20 points, 13 rebounds, one assist, two blocked shots and three steals.
“Wilder’s capable of doing that game in and game out,” Fleming County coach Mark Starns said. “I've given him the name ‘Hoss Cat.’ He can do a double-double and make a living down here on the block. That’s up to him if he wants to do that or not.”
Two other Panthers, seniors Brady Saunders and Troy Steward, tossed in 16 and 13 points, respectively for Fleming County (3-1).
Morgan County coach Matthew Perry said emotions hurt the Cougars as much anything else. “We let our fears, let our doubts, keep us from playing,” he said.
Jordan Perry led Morgan County (2-2) with 15 points. Jarrad Burton scored 10, and Mike Whisman grabbed 11 rebounds.
Fleming Co. 14 7 9 18 — 48
East Carter 14 19 11 24 — 68
Fleming Co. (48): Peterson 13, Pfeffer 2, Boyd 5, Steward 9, Lytle 15, Taylor 2, Fearin 1, Hardymon 1.
East Carter (68): Mayo 8, Greenhill 12, Hall 11, Stickler 15, Stumbo 7, Limings 8, Langstaff 1, Dameron 3, Pennington 3.
Free throws: FC 11-19; EC 13-22. Three-pointers: FC 1 (Boyd); EC 7 (Mayo 2, Greenhill 2, Stickler, Dameron, Pennington).
Fleming Co. 16 20 21 15 — 72
Morgan Co. 4 10 13 9 — 36
Fleming Co. (72): Crisp 8, Steward 13, Saunders 16, Williams 20, McAdams 1, Crumby 6, Grannis 2, Hall 4, Todd 2.
Morgan Co. (36): Adams 2, Burton 10, Whisman 4, Perry 15, Thornsberry 2, Prater 1, Collins 2.
Free throws: FC- 10-17; MC 6-8. Three-pointers: FC 6 (Steward 2, Crumby 2, Crisp, Hall); MC 0.