POST — Youth and inexperience caught up with the Grady Lady Wildcats when they met No.14 Paducah in the girls’ Class A, Division II area championship Friday.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a lot,” Grady head coach Ken Hefner said.”But it’s not a lack of effort. The kids played hard all year long. They did some great things. It’s just disappointing to finish on a night like this.”
Paducah handed a 58-35 loss to the Lady Cats, whose playoff run ended after a win over Ropes in the bi-district round Tuesday.
The Lady Dragons, who had a bye the first round, jumped on Grady early en route to the win. Paducah’s Shunequa Walker was big with 17 points, Kendra Hardeman had 16 and Alex Stice had 15.
Grady guard Julia Scheulke was the only double-digit scorer for the Lady Cats. She finished with 13.
Paducah jumped out to a 24-3 lead in the first quarter, while the Lady Cats were barely able to get shots off due to turnovers.
A lot of that first quarter was Hardeman’s doing, scoring 10 of her 16 during that span.
The Lady Cats did show signs of life when Charmynee Arnold’s score made it 27-15 Paducah at the 9:09 mark in the second. Grady outscored the Lady DragPaducah head coach Amy Bowles said getting large leads early is fine, as long as her players keep applying the pressure. In her opinion, that didn’t happen, evidenced by the second quarter.
“One thing I didn’t want to do is jump out early, get a big lead and get relaxed,” she said. “I felt like that’s kind of what we did. We changed up our defense a little bit and went back to a man (defense) in the second half and got our intensity back up.”
Hefner wasn’t surprised at the Lady Dragons’ early run. He knew Paducah was capable of putting the game out of reach in a hurry.
“They have a lot of good athletes,” he said. “Their point guard is strong. I thought their wings did a great job, but sometimes, we get in the habit of wanting somebody else to do the job. Like maybe Julia brings the ball down and we get a little tense and that’s happened to us in several games this year. I think as they get a little older, a little more mature, it’ll be a little bit different.”
Getting a little older may be all Grady needs to take the next step.
Hefner, who is in his first year as Grady’s coach, said he is proud of the strides his team made this season.
The majority of his team is coming back next season, too, and the only senior on next year’s team will be Kelly Cook. Scheulke and post player Katie Meeks were the only two seniors this year.
Meanwhile, Paducah has a date with Borden County in a regional quarterfinal matchup.