By Blain Click
CV&T Sports Reporter
Photo Courtesy of Jimmy Riley Photography
Coach Ruth Hughes praises one of the official’s good calls in the Owsley County Game.
The Estill County Lady engineers were quite busy this past week playing games on Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Friday. The week started with a win over Montgomery County on Saturday followed by a hard fought loss to Madison Southern on Monday.
It was then time for Estill County to face off against district rival Owsley County on Tuesday here in Irvine. Owsley County came into the game with a 6-8 record but was widely considered a regional contender despite graduating their division 1 star Macie Gibson, last year. Gibson now plays for Murray State University. The Owls returned their other top 7 players off last year’s 20-8 regular season district champion team plus added a high level transfer Kenzie Herald from Buckhorn in the offseason.
The Neers got off to a slow start in this one with turnovers and poor shot selection that led to several easy baskets for the Owls who put up 19 in the first quarter against the Estill point drop 3-2 zone.
Estill County trailed by seven before they switched to the man to man defense in the second quarter and began to slow down the pace. Mia Hale and Megan Bellamy were being guarded with the triangle and two defense trying to limit their shots, but they found ways to get loose in the second and Estill outscored the Owls 16-8 and took a 1 point lead into halftime.
The third quarter was a war as Owsley Co remained in the junk defense slowing the game to a snail’s pace for both teams. Estill County led 38-36 entering the fourth quarter but the Neers had some serious foul trouble with three players having four fouls. Starting guard Mia Hale was one of those players and had to sit a big part of the third and fourth quarters, allowing Owsley County to make a run early in the fourth.
Buckhorn transfer and Owls leading scorer Kenzie Herald was a load to guard off the dribble as she continued to drive the paint drawing fouls at a rapid pace. She finished the game with 28 points going 17-22 from the charity stripe. Free throws turned out to be the difference in the game as Owsley County made more free throws than Estill County even attempted and the Owls went on to win the game by a score of 53-50. The Engineers finished 11-18 from the line but also shot poorly from the field at 29 percent despite getting several more shot attempts than Owsley county.
Estill County was lead in scoring by Megan Bellamy with 15 followed by freshman Mia Hale with 12. Kiely Flynn pumped in 9, Haley Angel 6, Hannah Baker 4 and recently added Kayley Riddell chipped with 4 points and 10 rebounds in only 14 minutes of action. Owsley County moved to 2-1 in district play while Estill fell to 1-2 in the district and 6-10 overall.
Despite two losses earlier in the week, Estill County came into Friday night’s district game with arch rival Powell County at the depot with a lot of confidence. Estill had played one their poorest games of the season roughly three weeks ago in Stanton when the Pirates throttled the Neers 52-30.
Once again, a huge crowd gathered at the depot for the Friday night doubleheader. Both student sections were full and electrified creating a great atmosphere for both teams. Each team came out in a man to man defense very familiar with the opponent’s offensive tendencies which created a slow pace and low scoring. Estill led 11-10 after the first quarter. The Lady Engineers were packing the defense in tight trying to slow down Powell County center Macie Howell, but she still managed to score almost half of the Pirate points in the half. Megan Bellamy who has been chased or shadowed nearly every game by the defense, found a way to get loose and muster up 9 of Estill’s 19 first half points which tied the game up at the intermission.
In the third quarter, the Engineers cranked up the man to man defense limiting Powell Co. to only two field goals in the quarter, both by reserve guard Bush but that was good enough for a Powell County one point lead to start the fourth quarter.
The final stanza belonged to Estill, however, and their leading scorers Bellamy and Hale, both of whom nailed every free throw in the quarter. Mia Hale went 8 of 8 down the stretch and Megan Bellamy knocked down two huge free throws late in the game to secure the win for the Neers. Estill County ended up 17-22 from the free throw line for the game which proved to be the difference. A late jump hook by eight grader Haley Angel also played a huge role in the late surge that led to the 43-38 Engineer victory.
Estill County held Powell County leading scorer Emily Branham, to a season low 3 points. Megan Bellamy led all scorers with 15 points followed by Hale with 12. Haley Angel threw in 9, Kiely Flynn 4 and Hannah Baker chipped in with 3. The Engineers moved to 2-2 in the district while Powell falls to 2-1. Both teams have a visit to Owsley remaining on the schedule which could decide the number one seed in the district. The district tournament will be held at Owsley Co.