The matchup appeared one-sided judging by the teams’ win-loss records, and ended with a 27-point loss for the Adair County Lady Indians, but Jerald Bryant’s squad put up a fight before eventually falling to a better team Tuesday night, Feb. 23, in the first round of the 20th District Tournament in Campbellsville.
Coming into the game as the district’s No. 1 seed and presumed favorite, Taylor County (17-12) looked the part of bully in the first frame, leaping out to 17-5 lead after the first eight minutes. The margin proved to be too much to overcome, especially with Adair (5-21) shooting at a 27 percent clip from the floor and committing 31 turnovers for the game.
“[Taylor County] came out and executed very well, got some great shots and they were knocking them down,” Bryant says. “They were taking their shots where they wanted them.”
The girls from Columbia did not quit, however, and dogged the Lady Cards into 21 turnovers in retaliation, mucking the game up and creating a style that generally favors the underdogs. Sophomore Sarai Collins provided an instant spark off the bench, swiping three steals and scoring seven points in quarter No. 2, the only frame in which Adair outscored Taylor.
“After we withstood that barrage of threes in the first quarter, we settled down a lot,” Bryant explains. “We made some defensive adjustments, still stayed in the zone, but we were able to get after the shooters and run them off their spot. We got it down to six points, then had a couple lapses and a lack of execution there at the end to go into the half down 10.”
The effort persisted, but the momentum swung back in the Lady Cards’ favor in the second half. Too many missed shots and too many turnovers sealed Adair’s fate. The scoreboard read 56-29 at the final horn.
“At this point, I think my reflection on the season is that we were able to make some improvements,” Bryant says. “We had a list of team goals, and we accomplished some of those. I’m going to remember the seniors and all the adversity they went through, playing for new coaches every year, and I’m going to remember how our young ones adjusted and improved and were ready to step up when called upon.”
Sophomore Ellie Cheatham led Adair in scoring with 12. The state’s second leading rebounder also grabbed six boards. Collins pulled down five rebounds to go with her three steals and seven points. Hannah West (four), Carli Carter (three), Kaylee Campbell (two), and Jada Woolridge (one) rounded out the Lady Indians’ scoresheet.
Leeann Goodin and Grace Bell led the offensive attack for Taylor, with 18 and 15 points, respectively. The Lady Cardinals will face Marion County, winner of the other first round contest over Campbellsville, in the championship game Friday.
This game marked the last for Adair County seniors Campbell, Carter, and Laney Stotts, who uncharacteristically failed to score but logged two rebounds and an assist in 26 minutes of court time Tuesday.
Bryant says he looks forward to more improvement in 2022-2023.
“I’m excited to bring some of the younger ones up, get them in a different kind of shape so they can play 30 plus games over a season, sometimes more if they play at multiple levels. I’m looking forward to seeing them improve,” he says.
Stats for the game provided courtesy of Scott Bennett of 93.5 WAIN