By John Lachmann
WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. – Simon Kenton’s path to a district title got a lot easier when Walton-Verona was upset by Grant County.
The Pioneers had beaten the Braves by 46 and 26 points in the teams’ regular-season meetings. Against the Bearcats, Simon Kenton’s winning margins were six and nine points this season.
On Saturday, the Pioneers improved to 3-0 vs. Grant County with a 60-27 win in the District 32 title game at Williamstown.
Senior Paige Bosse talked about finding out Walton-Verona, which had beaten the Braves by 46 and 25 points in the regular season, was out of the district tournament.
“I was shocked at first, but for us it was relief because it was a little bit easier to play against a team we beat twice (by a wide margin),” senior forward Paige Bosse said.
After pulling off their one-point win over Walton-Verona on Wednesday, it looked like the Braves were going to mount a serious challenge to Simon Kenton early, as sophomore guard Macy Wright knocked down a three a minute into the game.
Pioneers junior guard Christina Cook hit a trey of her own to tie it nine seconds later, and she stole the ball and scored again to make it 5-3.
Grant County senior forward Billie Hearn tied the score with a field goal, and Cook hit 1-of-2 free throws to give Simon Kenton a one-point lead.
Hearn was fouled while shooting a three, but she missed all three free throws, and within seconds Cook threw in another trey. Pioneers junior guard Mackenzie Hester hit a shot 18 seconds later after the Braves were unable to score on their ensuing possession.
“I think that kind of deflated them a little bit,” Stowers said. “Here you go, we fouled on a 3-point shot – I’m really livid with a girl fouling on a 3-point shot – and she misses the three and we get the bucket on the other end and I thought, OK, here we go.”
Grant County scored the next three points, but Simon Kenton sophomore guard Kelsey Schmiade nailed a 3-pointer after senior center Paige Bosse kicked a pass out to her from under the net, and Pioneers junior guard Abby Owings hit a layup as time expired to push the lead to eight.
Simon Kenton’s speed was too much for the Braves, and the Pioneers finished the first half on a 23-4 run. Owings had eight points in that 8:35 span.
“What we wanted to do is we wanted to get out and run and we wanted to put the same thing on their mind that they had to deal with the first two games, get up and down the floor,” Stowers said. “Miss or make, we were going to run. We were going to down through our bench and see who was standing in the fourth quarter.”
The Pioneers had 44 shots in the first half, hitting 13, and they allowed their fewest points in the first half of the season (12), and Bosse 12 rebounds at the break.
Cook had 13 points at halftime, including a pair of 3-pointers.
“We go as (Cook) goes,” Stowers. “When she has that defensive intensity, and she comes down and she nails buckets, it’s over, it’s on. It’s going to be a long night for somebody.”
Sophomore forward Maggi Bosse hit three straight baskets at the end of the third quarter as Simon Kenton ran the lead to 28, and Owings scored five points at the beginning of the third quarter to help the Pioneers induce the running clock in the final minutes.
Cook finished with a team-best 15 points, earning most valuable player honors as the Pioneers celebrated their first district championship since 2009. Owings added 13 points, and Paige Bosse tallied eight points and 16 rebounds – 10 on the offensive glass.
“Cookie did awesome today,” Paige Bosse said. “That three she made and all the points that she had – she had an outstanding game, she was a big part of out win tonight.”
Hearn and eighth-grade guard Jenna Martin paced the Braves with seven points each. Martin scored all of her points in the third quarter.
“It’s really hard to beat a team three times because once you beat a team two times they come back the third time and they know what you do, but we pulled it off,” Cook said.
Simon Kenton had lost to Walton-Verona in the district final each of the past three years.
Looking to regionals, Stowers said he was concerned about converting its offensive rebounds, which has been an issue all season. He pointed to a 2-2 stretch his team suffered through, during which it pulled down 99 boards on the offensive glass.
“I’d like to have a little more efficiency, because that’s what it comes down to,” Stowers said. “I tell the girls, it’s all going to boil down to what you do on the defensive end, what you do in the half court set. So hopefully we’ll get a little bit better this week at what we do and carry it on from there.”
GRANT CO. 8-4-11-4—27
GRANT COUNTY (16-11): Martin 2 3 7, Cummins 1 0 2, Hearn 3 1 7, Wright 1 0 3, Wilson 1 0 3, McCoy 0 1 1, Simons 2 0 4. Totals 10 5 27.
SIMON KENTON (26-5): Owings 4 3 13, Cook 6 1 15, Cox 1 1