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.
“I'm always getting trouble in practice by one of the seniors for blocking shots, but it's important in the game,” she said. “I thought I had it so I went for it.”
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.
“We knew that they were going to have to get after it,” Grady head coach Ken Hefner said. “We 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. … I think the credit goes to how hard they played.”
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.
“Our kids have done what they've done all year long,” Ropes head coach Mike McCann said. “We'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. … But coach Hefner does a tremendous job and he's brought that team so far in this lat year.”
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
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