Franklin-Simpson Lady Cats’ basketball team overcame a big halftime deficit, took the lead late, was forced into overtime but came up on the short end of the game with 72-68 loss to the Hart County Lady Raiders that eliminated them from the Class 2-A Tournament this past Sunday afternoon at Hart County High School in Mundfordville.

“This was a tale of two halves,” Lady Cats’ head coach Ashley Taylor said. “We showed a lot of grit getting back into the game but we showed a lot of complacency getting down so much in the beginning. They got punched in the mouth and they weren’t able to throw one back. That’s not us. When we don’t play our style of basketball, that’s what is going to happen.”

The Lady Cats got themselves into a major deficit in the 1st Half as the Lady Raiders’ top three scorers combined to score 21 of their 25 points in the 1st Quarter with senior Haley Sturgeon scoring nine points, sophomore Dea Bradley with eight points and senior Kiley Adcock adding four. Junior Lee Lee Partinger led the Lady Cats with four points with sophomore Katelyn McAlister knocking down a 3-pointer as they trailed 25-11 at the end of one.

Bradley and Sturgeon continued to lead Hart County in scoring as the duo combined to score 14 of the team’s 18 points in the 2nd Quarter. Barbee and Partinger combined to score all 12 points for Franklin-Simpson as they went into the locker room trailing 42-23 at halftime.

“We, the coaches, told the girls at halftime to not look at the scoreboard,” Taylor said. “They had a goal to cut the deficit down to 10 and when they looked up, we were only down six. They came out in the 2nd Half and played hard. We got to play better in the beginning and not put ourselves in that kind of situation.”

The Lady Cats began their epic comeback in the 3rd Quarter. Barbee led the team with nine points with freshman Vanessa Ray scoring four points and McAlister burying her second 3-pointer of the game. Their defense bottled up the Lady Raiders as they held Bradley and Sturgeon to two points each, 10 points overall in the quarter as they trailed 52-43 at the end of the third.

Franklin-Simpson came back and took the lead by scoring 14 unanswered points as McAlister connected on two 3-pointers, her third and fourth of the game, with junior Hadley Turner scoring four points. Sturgeon scored five of Hart County’s seven points including a free throw late in the quarter that tied the game at 59-59 to force overtime.

In the overtime, the Lady Cats took an early lead with four points from Turner and a 3-pointer from Partinger. But Bradley scored nine of the Lady Raiders’ 13 points as they withstood Franklin-Simpson’s furious comeback for the 72-68 overtime victory that eliminated the Lady Cats from the Class 2-A Tournament.

“Being 8-2 is a blessing but also a curse at the same time,” Taylor said. “We told the girls that you have to come ready to go every game. Don’t know if it’s the Christmas break setting in but we didn’t come out with the fire that we have.”

Alera Barbee led Franklin-Simpson with 21 points with Lee Lee Partinger scoring 15 points with Katelyn McAlister adding 12.

“When you play a good team like Hart County, we had to give everything we had to get back in this game,” Taylor said. “In overtime, we’re a young team. We have never been in this spot and we have to learn how to win and we made several mistakes. You can tell at the end that in this kind of situation, we have to learn to win.”

Dea Bradley led all scorers with a game high of 30 points for Hart County with 23 points from Haley Sturgeon.

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