ASHLAND Skilled and tall, Kelsie Woodard is an obvious matchup problem for many teams in the area, including Rose Hill Christian.
Menifee County tries to refrain from force-feeding it to Woodard, coach Paul Ricker said, but in the third quarter Thursday night, Woodard went off.
Beginning at the 6:06 mark of the third frame, the 6-foot-1 Ladycats senior pitched in three consecutive baskets down low to break a 24-all tie.
Those were six of Woodard’s 22 points, to go along with 22 rebounds, in Menifee County’s 51-37 victory over the Lady Royals at Charles Stewart Gymnasium.
Ricker called Woodard “probably the most unselfish best player I’ve ever had” and said the Ladycats try to use that quality.
“She doesn’t look to shoot it every time; she’s a really good skip passer. This year, we’ve actually got three, four kids who can make 3s,” Ricker said. “It’s very difficult in the locker room to say, hey, we have to get it to her, because that’s why we lost to Madison Central (in the season opener Tuesday). Fourth quarter, it was 1 on 5, all we were doing was looking for her, and that’s not who we are.
“So tonight, you saw kids, even when they were missing, shooting when they were open. We want that to be our ID, not just, stop Kelsie Woodard.”
That mindset resulted in one of Menifee County’s most important buckets of the night.
Baylee Trimble dropped in her third 3-pointer to lift the Lady Royals within 42-36 with 4:18 to go. But eighth-grader Jaycee Gevedon, who had just checked in, answered from downtown 11 seconds later.
“Those kids, if they don’t shoot when they’re open, I take them out,” Ricker said. “I don’t care if there’s a Kelsie Woodard on the floor, that’s not the way we coach, and Jaycee Gevedon can stroke.
“So for her to come off the bench, to me, it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s a great, big shot,’ but she just knew, ‘I’m open; I gotta shoot.’ I think that’s a testament to how we coach them.”
The Lady Royals had gone to a zone defense just before that sequence, Rose Hill coach Nick Karle said, which helped spring Gevedon.
“We have to help so much on Woodard underneath, that the block is usually the one who pops out and gets that until the wing can recover,” Karle said, “but we had to stay down on Woodard, so that hurt us. It was just a quick, bang-bang 3.”
That started a 9-0 Ladycats sprint down the stretch, which included a four-point possession all produced by Woodard with less than four minutes to go.
It wasn’t until that that Menifee County finally shook Rose Hill, which ended a decade-long losing streak against 16th Region opponents on Monday night and played with the accompanying confidence of that feat on Thursday.
“I think our hustle kept us in it,” Karle said. “We’re tremendously undersized compared to this team, so our heart was there tonight. We didn’t do the little things. We didn’t box out down the stretch.
“I was proud of our girls, how they played effort-wise. Shots will fall eventually. This is good for us. ... It says a lot about our heart and where it’s headed.”
Karle was alluding to a tough shooting start that saw the Lady Royals miss their first 20 field-goal attempts. Rose Hill was 3 for 26 from the floor at the end of the first quarter and still led, 8-6.
Then came three lead changes and four ties before Menifee County got control.
Eighth-grader Alana Diehl pitched in eight points off the bench for the Ladycats (1-1). Morgan Wells claimed 11 of Menifee County’s 56 rebounds.
Trimble scored 11 points, Bellamee Sparks netted 10 and Gabby Karle came up with eight for the Lady Royals (1-1), who shot 22.2% from the field, 15.0% from the perimeter and 46.2% at the foul line.
Menifee County wasn’t much better, shooting 36.7% on field goals, 37.5% at the charity stripe and 19.0% on 3s.
“I think there’s a five-minute stretch where we looked like we knew what we were doing,” Ricker said. “Early we still looked like we were trying to play too fast ... and when we move it and reverse it, we get what we want.”
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