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Lady Wildcats go to State

Photo by Shari Harris
The 2018-2019 LHS Girls’ basketball team earned 4th place in the state. The players front from left: Lexi Hadix, Athena Hood, Lainy Hadix; second row Kylie Taylor, Anna Sullins, Tori Porter, Karlee Holland, Aubrie Stephens; third row Kyra Taylor, Winter Murray, Kimrey Krewson, Kasey Richards; back row Kiley Ingram, Abagail Moncrief, Tomi Rose and Bailie Joyner.
Final Four Summary
By Shari Harris
  On Thu. March 7, the Lady Wildcats faced a tough Lutheran High School North team in the Class 3 State Semi-Final game. At halftime, the game was tied, but the Crusaders’ Madison Buford cut loose in the third quarter, scoring all 13 of Lutheran’s points for the quarter and building a 4 point lead over Licking.
  Going into the fourth quarter, Buford and the Crusaders continued to roll. After the first two minutes, Buford’s scoring slowed, but the Wildcats had difficulty getting a shot due to the speed of Lutheran North’s defense. With 3:49 on the clock, the Lady ‘Cats faced a 14 point deficit, but they didn’t give up. They rallied to close the gap to 8 points. Final score – Lutheran North 56, Licking 48.
  “Buford was huge. She gave them some cushion,” said Coach Rissler in the post-game interview. “Their team speed was more than anticipated.”
  “We kinda put our heads down,” said Athena Hood, referring to the beginning of the fourth quarter.
  When asked about the game plan to contain LHS’ Karlee Holland, Lutheran North Coach Chris Forrest stated, “She made it real difficult for us. We threw everything we had at her.”
  Holland acknowledged the pressure, stating, “They take away your outside shot.” Despite this, Holland was still able to lead the Lady ‘Cats in scoring with 20 points.
  With the loss in the semi-final game, Licking faced Trenton in the 3rd/4th place game on Friday. Trenton lost to Lutheran North in 2017 in this same game, so they were determined to have a different outcome. The Trenton Bulldogs had five seniors that had played together for years, who Coach Brian Upton referred to as “the most prolific athletic group that’s come through” the Trenton girls’ basketball program. These two factors gave Trenton a head start.
  Trenton jumped out to a 9-2 lead, but the Lady ‘Cats fought back to within 5 for a first quarter score of 6-11. The second quarter was closer, but the Bulldogs managed to add two to their lead, with the ‘Cats behind 12-19 at the half. The third quarter went decisively to Trenton, with LHS trailing by 14 going into the fourth. At one point in the fourth, the lead had swelled to 21, but Licking never surrendered, keeping up with Trenton in scoring in the fourth, with each team scoring 18. Final score was Trenton 54, Licking 40.
  Coach Upton credited the interior passing, with guards driving in as the Bulldogs’ secret to success, with 36 points scored in the interior.
  “Shots weren’t falling tonight,” said Coach Rissler. Licking struggled with hitting their shots especially in the first half, with 17.4% FG% and 16.7% three-point FG%. The second half was better but still below norm for the Lady ‘Cats, at 30.8% and 21.4% respectively.
  Although there was obvious disappointment in the loss, Coach Rissler and his Lady Wildcats were proud to receive the fourth place plaque and their medals. Coach Rissler stated, “Once I got this medal around my neck…I’m happy. I feel pretty good.”
  “Just coming all this way, it’s been fabulous,” said junior center Abagail Moncrief. “It’s an awesome experience.”
  Coach Rissler shared that former LHS Coach Byron Hagler had visited the girls before the games. Hagler had shared that it had been his dream for the girls to play at this level more than thirty-five years ago when he began building the program. LHS has a history of state level success in many sports and other competitions, and now girls’ basketball has been added to the list. Licking is proud of the Lady ‘Cats and all of their students who strive to be their best every day.
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Photos by Shari Harris
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