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Preview: Casey Rebels face Rockcastle in regional championship

By LARRY VAUGHT

Contributing writer

STANFORD — One week after losing 47-37 to Rockcastle County in the 47th District title game, Casey County will get a chance to avenge that loss and win a regional title at the same time.

Casey beat Danville 60-37 Friday night before Rockcastle pounded Wayne County 65-30 in the second 12th Region Tournament semifinal at Lincoln County.

Saturday night the two rivals play for a chance to go to the state tournament. Casey last won the region in 2009 and lost in the title game the last two years. Rockcastle won the region in 2010 and 2011 but has not been in the title game since then.

In the 47th District title game, Jordyn Stephens led Casey with 17 points and Gena Cravens had 13. However, the rest of the game combined for just seven points and missed 16 of 18 shots. Casey took 23 3-pointers and made seven with Cravens and Stephens each making three.

Rockcastle got 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the field from Casey Coleman and nine points each from Hallie Brown and Lindsey Jones against Casey. Shelby Newland added eight points. Rockcastle was 16 of 27 from the field.

“Rockcastle County is always good and we have to protect inside better this time,” Casey coach Tara Weddle said. “We can’t play so passive offensively. We just did not play with any energy that night.

“We had our lowest shot total of the year against Rockcastle. They put a lot of pressure on us and we just did not handle it very well.”

Casey (26-7) won 54-41 at Rockcastle in mid-December and beat the Rockets 59-49 in Liberty on Jan. 17. However, Rockcastle (26-7) has won 14 of 15 games since that loss to Casey.

“Coleman just killed us inside the last time we played them,” Lee said. “We definitely have to keep her out of the paint a lot better this time. On offense we have to take the ball to the rim. We also definitely have to block out better. We just didn’t do anything very well overall last game against them.”

Rockcastle certainly had a dominating performance against Wayne. The Rockets built a 36-11 halftime lead by making 13 of 18 shots and forcing Wayne to miss 17 of 21.

Rockcastle relied on balanced scoring for its win over Wayne with Keelee King and Coleman both scoring 15 points while Jones had 13 and Newland 12. The Rockets were 23 of 34 — 65 percent — from the field.

Wayne made just 10 of 46 shots against Rockcastle’s defense. Macey Blevins led Wayne with 14 point but was just 5-for-21 from the field.

“We know how good Macey is. We tried to double team her all owe could,” Rockcastle coach Chrysti Noble said.

She also knows what it will take to beat Casey in the regional final.

“We have got to keep them off the boards and limit them in transition,” Noble said. “The last game we just really guarded them. We did not overplay them to limit their drives but they have a bunch that can shoot. We did play good defense tonight and moved the ball well. We have to do that again.”

Noble said adversity has helped her team bond. One player’s father passed away during the season. Coleman was sick Thursday and had to go to the emergency room at UK.

“Fortunately it was nothing serious with Coleman but we didn’t know at first,” Noble said. “They have  just really come together as a team and are playing for each other. We’ve got good girls, but so does Casey.”

Noble isn’t s surprised the teams are playing again.

“I thought after we beat them in the district we could play again,” Noble said. “The last time we won district was in 2011, the last time we won the state. So I’m hoping this is a good omen for us.”