By Dan Wright
FLORENCE, Ky. – Sophomore guard Alexis Switzer was named the 33rd District tournament’s most valuable player after hitting the game-winning shot with eight seconds remaining in Boone County’s 54-53 win against Ryle in Thursday night’s championship game at Boone County.
Afterward, however, all she and the rest of the team were talking about the screen by senior forward Lauren McQueary that made the final basket possible.
“We ran the play exactly how we needed,” said Switzer. “I wouldn’t have got that shot if it wasn’t for my teammate Lauren McQueary, if she wouldn’t have set that screen. It was a great screen.”
Said Boone County coach Nell Fookes: “It was run to perfection. What people won’t realize is what a great screen Lauren McQueary set. That’s how (Switzer) got open to make that shot.”
Said McQueary, who is the daughter of Rebels’ boys’ basketball coach Greg McQueary: “Being around basketball awhile it kind of helps me know basketball smarts and the importance of key plays like that.”
The screen and resulting basket by Switzer capped a 22-point effort, but it also marked Switzer’s only points over the final 12:57, as Ryle came back from an 11-point deficit to nearly knock off the Rebels in the district final for the second straight year.
Two free throws from Switzer put the Rebels ahead, 41-30, with 4:57 remaining in the third quarter, but Ryle senior Dawn Johnson scored nine third-quarter points to lead a surge that had the Rebels advantage down to five, 45-40, by the end of the third quarter.
A driving layup by senior guard Anna Monobe gave Ryle its first lead since mid-way through the second quarter, 50-49, setting up a back-and-forth finish.
Consecutive jumpers by senior guard Jessica Jones regained the lead for Boone County, 53-51, prompting Ryle to call timeout with 2:24 remaining.
The Raiders responded and Johnson drove the lane for a bucket that put Ryle back on top, 54-53, with 30 seconds remaining.
Johnson missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw, however, and Boone County called time out to set up its final play with 12.6 seconds remaining.
“You’ve got to execute that stuff perfectly, and I told Coach Madden, who calls all our inbounds plays, I want Switzer getting the ball off the handoff,” said Fookes of the game-winning play. “They thought we were going that way with it, and we came back this way with Lauren off the block. The screen, that was critical.”
Ryle had a final shot after calling timeout with 5.1 seconds remaining, but Monobe’s shot missed the rim and Jones pulled down the rebound to secure the win for the Rebels.
“We just didn’t finish it, but honestly it shouldn’t have come to that,” said Ryle head coach Patti Oliverio, who told her team they had two fouls to give at the end of the game. “We should have fouled down there and why we didn’t foul, I don’t know.”
Johnson made the all-tournament team for Ryle after finishing with 19 points, 13 of which came in the second half. Senior guard McKell Oliverio also made the all-tournament team, finishing second on the team with nine points.
Sophomore guard Macey Ford was named to the all-tournament team for Boone County, scoring eight points, including two baskets during a 16-4 run that put the Rebels ahead, 35-24, at halftime.
Jones was also named to the all-tournament team for the Rebels after scoring 14 points and leading the team with seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
“She’s a tremendous defender,” Fookes said of Jones. “She takes personal pride in everything we do. She takes ownership. She’s our leader. She’s the heart and soul of our team.”
Both teams advance to next week’s 9th Region tournament at the Bank of Kentucky Center at NKU, but Fookes said it was important for her team to go in as district champions after entering the district tournament as the fourth seed.
“I told them going in, we beat (top-seeded) Conner, which everyone thought it was an upset, but I knew we could do it because we’d beaten them before,” said Fookes, whose team was 9-10 a month ago. “Now this was the game – don’t be happy to be there. At Boone County, we’re winners. We want to go in as a winner.”
BOONE COUNTY (17-11): Ford 4 0 8, McGarr 1 0 3, Jones 7 0 14, Switzer 6 8 22, Moore 1 3 5, Knotts 1 0 3. Totals 20 11 55.
RYLE (11-18): Monobe 3 2 8, Oliverio 4 0 9, Schwartz 1 0 2, Connor 1 0 3, Lange 2 1 5, Senvisky 3 1 8, Johnson 8 2 19. Totals 22 6 54.
3-pointers: BC—Switzer 2, McGarr, Knotts. R—Oliverio, Connor, Senvisky, Johnson.
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