By JAMES BROWN
BOWLING GREEN – Monroe County is back in the Girls’ Fourth Region Tournament title game for the first time since 2012. They qualified for the right to play for their first regional title since 1996 by beating Metcalfe County, 65-48, Friday night at E.A. Diddle Arena.
Lady Falcons coach Dwayne Murray said he was pleased with the way his team opened the game, applying pressure defense and converting on offense.
Monroe rushed to a 9-2 lead two minutes into the game. Senior guard Lauren Hammer sparked the run with a couple of jumpers from the right side of the basket, while Reagan Turner added a 3-pointer and Ashlee McGeorge hit a layup.
Metcalfe County took a timeout to regroup, but Hammer buried two more jumpers after a basket by Kaylee Harbison for the Lady Hornets. Monroe led 13-4 with 4:42 left in the first period.
Fourth Region Player of the Year MacKenzie Coleman hit one of two free throws for Metcalfe and that was all the scoring for her team in the first quarter.
McGeorge converted a 3-point play after Coleman’s foul shot, which started an 11-0 run to end the first quarter.
The Lady Falcons led 24-5 at the end of the first period.
The Lady Hornets rallied in the second period with a 14-9 advantage and trailed 33-19 at halftime.
Metcalfe chipped further into the lead in the third quarter.
Coleman converted an and-1 with 5:29 left in the period and cut Monroe’s lead to 37-26. Monroe turned the ball over, but Metcalfe gave it right back and Reagan Turner scored to put her team back up 13 points.
Coleman responded again with a 3-point play, which was also the play on which McGeorge picked up her third foul. Metcalfe was within 10, 39-29, with five minutes to play in the quarter.
The Lady Hornets were able to force a turnover and off of it Braelyn Davis buried a 3 to pull her team within 7 points with 3:49 to play in the third period.
Metcalfe had a couple of chances to get closer over the next two minutes, but did not convert. Kelsey Johnson finally broke the rally with a pair of free throws then Turner hit a jumper with 10 seconds left in the period.
Monroe led 43-32 after three quarters.
Coleman led all scorers with 29 points. She also grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked four shots.
Turner led Monroe with 21 points, while Hammer and McGeorge each finished with 12. Ashley Gearlds grabbed 10 rebounds.
The Lady Falcons play next at 3 p.m. Sunday at Diddle Arena.