HERALD Photo/Adam Coleman â€” Julia Scheulke brings the ball up the court as she is guarded by Ropes' Paige Thrash.
In a game that lacked scoring, it's fitting the biggest play of the night happened on the defensive end.
Ropes' fourth quarter push was stalled after Grady's Sarah Clay blocked Samantha Medrano's 3-pointer, which could have given the Lady Eagles a 31-30 lead with a little under a minute left in the game.
Instead Grady held on for the 31-28 win in Class A Division II bi-district playoff action and a date with No. 14 Paducah in the area round.
Clay, who also had a team-high eight points, came up big at the right time for the Lady Cats.
â€śI'm always getting trouble in practice by one of the seniors for blocking shots, but it's important in the game,â€ť she said. â€śI thought I had it so I went for it.â€ť
Grady was up by 12 heading into the fourth and the third quarter was no indication Ropes would make a comeback. Both teams combined for four points in the third, but Ropes exploded for 17 in the fourth, making
Grady sweat a little bit.
â€śWe knew that they were going to have to get after it,â€ť Grady head coach Ken Hefner said. â€śWe haven't been in this position, we haven't been in the playoffs for a while. So I think us trying to find a rhythm, we got so carried away with what they were doing, they got after it. I mean they really put a lot of pressure on us. â€¦ I think the credit goes to how hard they played.â€ť
The only scores in the third quarter came from Clay and Ropes' Chelsea Rosales. Grady had a substantial lead at the time, so as long as Ropes wasn't making any shots, the Lady Eagles were in good shape.
But that change quickly.
A 3-pointer from Ropes' Brooke Bryant made it 29-22 Grady in the middle of the fourth. After a Ropes free throw, Shea Means stole the ball and Shelby Hicklen gave the Lady Eagles another two points. Then another steal led to a Ropes free throw and Grady's lead suddenly dwindled down to 29-26 with a little more than a minute left in the game.
Grady's Julia Scheulke was then sent to the line and converted one of two free throws, helping the Lady Eagles to inch even closer after a Bailey Wetsel score on the next possession.
Hanging on to a 30-28 lead, Grady's Charmynee Arnold was sent to the line, but missed both her free throws. Ropes had a chance to take the lead on the next possession and that's exactly what the Lady Eagles went for when Medrano shot up a three. But Clay was there for the block
and Ropes couldn't recover.
â€śOur kids have done what they've done all year long,â€ť Ropes head coach Mike McCann said. â€śWe're scrappers and we're fighters. I'm extremely proud of them. We lost our all-region player before the season started and we've just had to find ways to score. â€¦ But coach Hefner does a tremendous job and he's brought that team so far in this lat year.â€ť
This is the second time Grady's got the best of Ropes this season. The two teams met in non-district action on Nov. 19, a 40-30 win for the Lady Cats.
Grady had to beat Wellman-Union Friday to get into the playoffs, but now the tall task of beating Paducah awaits. Grady and Paducah play at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Post High School in Post.
Grady 31, Ropes 28
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Grady 8 13 2 8 - 31
Ropes 5 4 2 17 - 28
Grady - Sarah Clay 8, Julia Scheulke 6, Kelly Cook 6
Ropes - Cami Hill 8, Brooke Bryant 3, Shelby Hicklen 2, Bailey Wetsel 2
3-point field goals - Grady 0, Ropes 3 (Bryant 1, Hill 2)
Total fouls - Grady 15, Ropes 15
Records: Grady (21-10), Ropes (18-13)
Next game: Grady vs. Paducah at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Post High School