Western Hills fights for win

Lady Wolverines hit free throws down the stretch to beat Trimble Co.

By Linda Younkin Published:

With the game on the line, that’s where Western Hills’ girls basketball team went for the win.

WHHS was 14 of 15 from the foul line during a crucial five-minute stretch of the fourth quarter Wednesday, and it led to a 57-54 victory over Trimble County at Lapsley Cardwell Gymnasium.

“If we’re down three or four we’ll find a way to win as long as we work as a team,” said WHHS sophomore Taylor Slade, who scored a career-high 27 points.

The Lady Wolverines (15-11) did trail in the early stages of the game. They found themselves down 28-22 at halftime, and Trimble County (16-8) scored the first basket of the third quarter to go ahead 30-22.

Western Hills answered with a 3-pointer from Slade, one of three she had in the third quarter.

“They went to a zone,” WHHS coach Buddy Ritchie said, “and that helped us at the start of the second half. “When they went zone we started hitting some shots.

“At halftime I asked the girls, ‘What’s the problem? You’re shooting the ball before it hits your hands.’”

That changed in the third quarter.

Slade’s third 3 of the period tied the game at 36, and after a basket by Paige Black gave the Lady Raiders a 38-36 lead, Kayla Hortenbury buried a 3 to put WHHS up by one, 39-38.

At the end of the third Trimble led 40-39.

Trimble’s last lead came on two free throws with 7:36 left in the game that put the Lady Raiders up 42-41.

A layup by Slade gave WHHS a 43-42 advantage, and that turned out to be the team’s last field goal of the game.

Slade hit two foul shots with 5:17 left for a 45-42 lead, and those two free throws were the first of 15 taken by the Lady Wolverines over the next 5 minutes.

“In the second half we moved the ball,” Ritchie said. “We shot 32 free throws. That shows we were attacking the basket, which is something we’ve worked on. We were 26 for 32 from the free throw line, and that’s much better than last night.”

A layup by Shelbe Black and two free throws by Erin Gonterman pulled Trimble County within a point, 53-52, with 1:32 left in the game.

WHHS’ LaKenzie Ritchie was fouled after coming up with a loose ball with 58 seconds left, and she made both foul shots for a 55-52 lead.

“I was just trying to get those to go in and get the lead up as much as I could,” she said.

Western Hills got the ball back, still leading 55-52. Slade missed a jumper with 46 seconds left, but Ritchie got the rebound and Trimble fouled Kimber Sutton with 28 seconds left.

Sutton made both free throws for a 57-52 lead, and Trimble closed out the scoring with a put-back by Gonterman with 19 seconds left.

Ritchie finished in double figures with 12 points, and she had seven rebounds, three assists and five steals.

Slade grabbed nine rebounds, five off the offensive glass, and Alexis True had three assists.

The Lady Raiders had two players in double figures — Paige Black with 19 points and Shelbe Black with 12.

“The girls never quit,” coach Ritchie said. “They’ve grown up a lot as a basketball team this year. I couldn’t ask for a better group to coach. They give it everything they have, and it’s starting to come together a little bit.”

Wednesday’s game closed out the regular season for Western Hills. The Lady Wolverines’ next game is against Woodford County Wednesday in the 41st District tournament at the Frankfort Convention Center.

TRIMBLE CO. (54) — Erin Gonterman 6, Ashley Brierly 2, Kaylee Clifford 8, Paige Black 19, Jesse Dunlap 7, Shelbe Black 12.

WESTERN HILLS (57) — Jenna Harrod 8, LaKenzie Ritchie 12, Taylor Slade 27, Kimber Sutton 3, Aja Leachman 2, Samantha Roberts 2, Kayla Hortenbury 3.

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