LOUISA Matt Stokes knew the first half had gone just a little too easily.
Visiting Rowan County led Lawrence County, 36-17, at halftime of the Kentucky 2A Section 8 Tournament girls final on Sunday afternoon, and “we knew going into the half up (19) that it would change,” the Vikings coach said.
The Bulldogs made that anticipated charge in the third quarter, outscoring Rowan County 18-6 to get back in it. Lawrence County finally got within three in the final 15 seconds, but couldn’t come all the way back.
The Vikings held off the Bulldogs, 58-53, to earn their third trip to the 2A state tournament in Owensboro in as many opportunities.
Each team’s high-scoring junior stuffed the scoresheet. Rowan County’s Haven Ford and Lawrence County’s Kensley Feltner — AAU teammates with Kentucky Premier — both dropped in 31 points.
Ford was 12 for 12 at the foul line, while Feltner converted 14 of 16 charity tosses.
“Feltner is tough to guard in the open court,” Stokes said. “She put the team on her back and got them into the game in the second half. Haven did great for us down the stretch as well. Knocked down a lot of key free throws to keep us in the lead.”
Rowan County (12-5) built its big advantage with aggressive defense and controlling the tempo offensively, Stokes said, but the Bulldogs got the pace more to their liking after intermission.
“We dug ourselves a hole in the first half,” Bulldogs coach Melinda Feltner said. “Give (Rowan County) credit, we didn’t come out ready to play and they took advantage of it. In the second half, we looked a little more like ourselves. We competed and fought the rest of the game and continued to chip away.”
Lawrence County (11-4) will use the game as an object lesson going forward, Melinda Feltner said.
“I’m definitely proud of our effort in the second half, but against a team like Rowan County, we have to be ready to go when we tip and we weren’t tonight,” she said. “We have to learn from it and get better. We wish Rowan County good luck next week.”
Katie Chandler tallied 15 points for the Vikings. Hailey Rose added nine, hitting three 3-pointers.
Rowan County’s 2A State first-round opponent is Harrison County on Friday night. The Fillies beat Mason County, 34-31, in the Section 5 Tournament final on Saturday.
ROWAN CO. 17 19 6 16 — 58
LAWRENCE CO. 6 11 18 18 — 53
Rowan County (58) — Kat. Chandler 15, Utterback 3, Rose 9, Ford 31, Kan. Chandler, Lewis, Walker, Eastman. 3-Pt. FG: 6 (Rose 3, Kat. Chandler, Utterback, Ford). FT: 14-19. Fouls: 20.
Lawrence County (53) — Feltner 31, Adkins 7, Ward 4, Hammond 5, E. Artrip 4, Nelson 2, Holt. 3-Pt. FG: 2 (Feltner, Adkins). FT: 21-28. Fouls: 15.