Playing its first game in nearly a week, Western Hills’ girls basketball team had the pace just where it wanted in the first half Thursday.
That changed in the second half, but the Lady Wolverines held off East Jessamine for a 54-51 victory at Lapsley Cardwell Gymnasium.
“We got to playing their game,” WHHS coach Buddy Ritchie said about the second half. “I think East likes to let you take the 10-footer, get the rebound and take off running.
“I don’t know that we really stopped them, but we had a big enough lead at halftime and we hit our free throws down the stretch to take care of it.”
Western Hills (11-5) led 11-4 after the first quarter. The Jaguars cut the lead to one, 12-11, with 5 minutes left in the second period, but WHHS ended the quarter on an 18-5 run and led 30-16 at halftime.
East Jessamine (11-3) began cutting into WHHS’ lead in the third quarter, holding the Lady Wolverines to six points and trailing 36-27 when the period ended.
“In the first half we played a zone and made them shoot the ball from the outside,” Ritchie said, “and we got No. 4 (Bereisha Gill) and No. 25 (Emma Young) in foul trouble in the first half.”
East Jessamine continued to go inside and opened the fourth quarter with a 10-3 run, cutting the Lady Wolverines’ lead to two at 39-37 with 5:32 left in the game.
The Lady Jaguars pulled within a point at 40-39 with just under 4 minutes left, but WHHS went on a 6-0 run to go ahead 46-39 with 2:36 remaining.
East Jessamine’s Sarah Rainwater, who led all scorers with 24 points, had a three-point play with 48 seconds left to make the score 49-46, but in the final 39 seconds WHHS’ LaKenzie Ritchie went 3 for 4 from the line and Alexis True was 2 for 2 to seal the victory.
“I’m proud of my girls and the way they responded,” coach Ritchie said. “We haven’t been in the gym since Monday. We practiced for an hour and half Monday. I’m proud of them; they played with heart.”
WHHS had nine players score, led by Kayla Hortenbury with 12 points.
“I thought Kayla helped us offensively,” Ritchie said, “and Kimber Sutton gave us a big lift off the bench. She only scored one point, but she does so many little things.
“Other players are able to get rebounds because she’s blocking her girl out and maybe another, too, and we can get rebounds from our guard spot.
“Shelby McDonald, when we went to a box and chaser, did a nice job on Young near the end.”
Western Hills hosts Knox Central Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and will play at Woodford County Monday with a varsity-only game at 6:30 p.m.
EAST JESSAMINE (51) — Bereisha Gill 5, Sarah Rainwater 24, Emilie Hatfield 7, Emma Young 10, Haley Day 1, Leighanne Haddix 2, Maddison Stollings 2.
WESTERN HILLS (54) — Jenna Harrod 3, Alexis True 8, Taylor Vance 4, LaKenzie Ritchie 5, Taylor Slade 7, Kimber Sutton 1, Aja Leachman 8, Samantha Roberts 6, Kayla Hortenbury 12.