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Heading into the fourth quarter of Friday night’s 29th District final, South Oldham was on its last legs.
After trailing rival Oldham County from the tip, the Lady Dragons needed a big stand in the final frame to stand a chance.
And that’s exactly what they got, capping a furious 15-7 rally over the game’s final minutes with a baseline buzzer-beater from sophomore Abbey Van Zant to claim the school’s fifth straight district championship.
“We have this thing called ‘Hold the rope’,” coach Christy Higdon said. “We decided at the end of the season that we know when we’re down who is going to hold that rope and who is going to pull us through. We held the rope. That wasn’t even close to the play we called but Van Zant got the shot fake, went around and put enough arch on that last shot to win at the buzzer. It was all on the kids. They didn’t quit.”
Still, for as impressive as the finish was, for the first 32 minutes, nothing seemed to go South Oldham’s way.
With guard Ashley McMurtrey and center Jenna Kirk providing plenty of production from the opposing sideline, the visibly-frustrated Lady Dragons had their work cut out for them.
After the deficit ballooned to 12 just minutes into the second half, Oldham County looked poised to coast from there.
South had different plans however, as a Sydney Jones’ 3-pointer and an Emma Sedoris’ putback pulled them within three points and set the stage for a final push with under two minutes to play.
Oldham County turned the ball over on the next possession on an errant pass and the Lady Dragons’ made them pay, tipping in a missed shot with 45 seconds to give them the lead at 44-43.
OC had a chance to take the lead right back after a foul but a violation on the ensuing free throws limited the Lady Colonels’ to one free throw to even the score at 44.
That set up Van Zant’s big moment and she delivered, netting a jumper over Kirk as the clocked expired to finish with 17 points and push the Lady Dragons’ through to the regional tournament.
South Oldham 3 11 20 15 — 46
Oldham County 12 10 9 13 — 44
South Oldham (15-14) — Van Zant 17, Jones 8, Sedoris 6, Sanford 5, Wilson 4, Mullins 3, Tylor 2, Beaudrie 1.
Oldham County (15-12) — McMurtrey 21, Kirk 8, Henderson 5, Leanhart 4, Stewart 4, Lopesilvero 2.
3-pointers — Van Zant 3, Jones, Mullins
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