The Bowling Green girls’ basketball team is headed to its third consecutive regional championship game.
The Lady Purples, taking on Russell County in the semifinals of the Region 4 Tournament, used a strong opening quarter and made the plays down the stretch to record a 47-29 win on Friday evening at E.A. Diddle Arena and book another trip to the final.
“We’re excited about it,” Bowling Green coach Calvin Head said. “Give credit to these girls. They just come in every day and fight and grind. We’ve tried to really push them past what they think they’re capable of doing. We got tested tonight. We could’ve folded up, but we didn’t.
“We bent and didn’t break. That’s a test to these girls.”
Meadow Tisdale finished with a double-double of 17 points and 20 rebounds to lead Bowling Green (27-6 overall), which lost to Russell County 43-42 on Feb. 20, while Saniyah Shelton scored 12 points.
The Lady Purples shot 18-of-50 (36%) from the field and outrebounded Russell County 39-22.
“I think we came out ready to play,” Tisdale said. “I think that loss made us realize that we could play way better than that.”
The Lady Purples will face Barren County in Saturday’s championship tilt for the second straight season. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Bowling Green won both regular-season meetings between the two sides, 64-51 on Dec. 7 and 61-40 on Jan. 7.
“It’s going to be tough,” Head said. “Elizabeth Bertram – she’s tough. We watched her will her team to win the other night against Warren East. (Raven) Ennis is playing better. (Katie) Murphy is playing better. (Eve) Jackson can shoot it. Karleigh Delk had 28 and 11 against Glasgow in the district finals.
“They’re well-rounded, and this ain’t their first rodeo as well.”
Bowling Green jumped out to a 6-0 lead at the 5:56 mark of the first quarter before Star Marcum scored three straight points to cut Russell County’s deficit in half two minutes later.
Tisdale opened the second with a 3-pointer to put the Lady Purples up 16-3, but Marcum and Sophie Shearer scored back-to-back baskets for the Lady Lakers to bring them within 16-7.
Bowling Green responded by closing the half with a 7-0 run – highlighted by Tisdale’s three-point play – to take a 23-7 lead into the break.
Russell County shot just 3-of-19 (15.8%) from the field in the first half and committed nine turnovers. The Lady Lakers, who finished their season 25-8, finished 11-of-36 (30.6%) shooting and with 14 turnovers.
Marcum led the way for RCHS with 13 points, and Juliah Bault scored nine.
Russell County picked up its play in the third quarter.
“I thought the first, second and fourth quarter, defensively, we were good,” Head said. “Third quarter we kind of got away from our scouting report. We let Bault and Marcum get into the lane way too much. Once we were able to close up gaps and take away driving lanes, we kind of got back into the flow of things going into the fourth quarter.”
Shiyanne Elkins scored to cut the Lady Lakers’ deficit to 27-15 at the 5:41 mark, and they soon assembled a 9-0 run – powered by six straight points from Bault – to get within 29-24 at the 2:26 mark.
LynKaylah James’ bucket gave Bowling Green a 36-27 lead at the 4:06 mark of the fourth, and Shelton’s and-one made it 39-27 with 2:57 remaining.
Tisdale scored inside, and Ava Bennett followed up with a triple to put the Lady Purples up 45-27 and seal it.
“They just guarded us – they just came out and guarded us and put a lot of pressure on us,” Russell County coach Brett Blankenship said. “We got tough there in the third quarter and made that little run, but we had already dug ourselves such a big hole. It’s hard to come back. We just never could get it to that point.”
BGHS – 13 10 9 15 — 47
RCHS – 3 4 19 3 — 29
BG: Meadow Tisdale 17, Saniyah Shelton 12, Emma Huskey 6, LynKaylah James 5, Keyozdon Jones 3, Ava Bennett 3, Aiyana Gurley 1.
RC: Star Marcum 13, Juliah Bault 9, Sophie Shearer 5, Shiaynne Elkins 2.