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CRESTWOOD – The total package was too much as the South Oldham High School Lady Dragons powered their way to the 29th District championship 70-57 over Oldham County Friday. “It all goes back to when we play as a team,” junior guard Emily Housley said. “We are a lot better when we do that and when we play good defense and we did both of those tonight.”
The Lady Dragons rode a dominating performance from junior guard Jasmine Whitfield who finished the game with 31 points and 18 rebounds. Whitfield’s performance was timely as well with forward Mary Dye, SOHS’ second leading scorer, on the bench for large chunks of the game with foul trouble. With Dye limited to seven points, SOHS got solid games from Housley with nine points and Brooke Haysley with eight in addition to seven points from Lissa Gamsky to pick up the slack in a rough and floater in the lane to tie the game while drawing a foul from Steinfeld. Smith hit the free throw to put the Colonels up 55-54 with 39.1 seconds left. “We moved Kerry around all night, but we had him at the top of the press there and he got a big deflection,” Holland said. “The kids just kept playing. When you are down five points with a minute left in the game pretty much everything has to work for you to win and it did.” The Colonels came up big on defense again on the next trip when center Tyler Wesley stepped in the lane to draw a charging foul from Steinfeld. OCHS went up 57-54 with 8.4 seconds left when Denise scored on a layup. The Colonels quickly fouled Steinfeld on the inbounds pass to prevent the Mustangs from getting a shot at a three-pointer that would have tied the game. He hit the first free throw for the final margin, but missed the second intentionally hoping to give the Mustangs a chance to get the rebound. On the second shot, however, Steinfeld crossed the line too quickly as he was shooting and was called for a lane violation. Smith, who is recovering from a late season shoulder injury, led the Colonels with 17 points and six steals. He was especially effective in the first half and helped the OCHS offense draw a pair of first half fouls on NOHS center Devon Rowan forcing him from the game for a long stretch. “We wanted to go at him as much as possible because we knew our chances were a lot better if he wasn’t playing,” Smith said. “He’s really good around the basket and hard to stop.” Smith’s emergence may be more of a factor in the regional tourney. “We told him tonight we didn’t think they could stop him off the dribble and that’s true of a lot of the teams we are going to see,” Holland said. “We stressed to him to keep turning the corner and he would get to the rim. He had a bunch of shots roll out or he would have scored more. I am proud of him after what he has had to fight through this year. It was good to see him play so well.” Smith was the Colonels’ only double figure scorer. The Colonels got a big first half off the bench from Alante Flores who finished with nine points including two three-pointers in the first half that kept OCHS ahead when the Mustangs mounted a run. The Mustangs were led by Rowan with 15 points. Levitch finished with 13 and Yates had 10. “We had T-shirts made for the kids this week that tell them to play the next play,” Holland said. “The kids struggle with that sometimes and want to take a break after a good play, but they took that to heart tonight.” OCHS – 10 17 15 15 57 – Blake Payne 8, Dylan Henderson 4, Nolan Denise 8, Tyler Wesley 7, Kerry Smith 17, Alante Flores 9, Parker Simpson 4; 57. NOHS – 13 9 16 17 55 – Jacob Clark 8, Nathan Yates 10, David Levitch 13, Kam Shams 4, Max Steinfeld 5, Devon Rowan 15; 55.