Fourteen of the last 20 years, either Marshall County or Murray High has won the girl’s Region Tournament – Marshall County holding a 10-4 edge during that time coming into Tuesday’s championship – but with their 38-29 win over the Lady Marshals, the last four have belonged to the Lady Tigers, winning their fourth straight Region Championship.
Murray’s slow-down pace of play has become a staple to their success which results in low-scoring games. Murray’s defense held the Lady Marshals to their lowest point total of the season in Tuesday’s loss, in fact all four losses to the Lady Tigers this season were their four lowest point totals.
“We never could find a rhythm”, Head Coach Dan Langhi said. “We ended up playing their pace in the first half. We tried to speed the game up but made some mistakes on defense. At the end of the day I told them…I love you guys, I wouldn’t trade you for anybody and we’ve come a long way this season.”
Langhi said it wasn’t their best effort but they played hard and at the end of the day, that’s all he could ask for.
“The hard work going back to 6:00 am gym time in the summer paid off to get them to the championship”, Langhi said.
Murray’s run to the region title came from the play of five players throughout the season and in Tuesday’s championship win, three of those five scored all of the Lady Tigers points led by sophomore Angela Gierhart with 15, senior Elizabeth Curtis scored 13 and junior Calli Carver added 10.
Signs of a low-scoring game were evident from the start with a 2-2 tie at the mid-way point of the first quarter. Halle Langhi and Presley Jezik gave the Lady Marshals a 6-4 lead followed by a 3-pointer from the top of the arc from Langhi to lead 9-4 with Murray killing clock for the final shot taken by Carver to cut the lead down to three points.
Curtis, whose buzzer beater gave Murray the district championship win over the Lady Marshals, dropped in her first of four threes in the game, to tie it 9-9 for the Lady Tigers to open the second quarter. Trailing Murray at 12-9, Cayson Conner scored to cut it to one point and three points from Langhi who scored and drew the foul put the Lady Marshals up by two. Carver scored four more for Murray, sandwiched around a basket by Conner for a 16-16 tie at halftime.
Murray stretched out a six-point lead in the third quarter, cut to one at 26-25 near the one minute mark on five straight points from Tera Colson, the first on a 3-point shot followed by a two. Gierhart scored the final four points of the quarter for the Lady Tigers to give them a 30-25 lead.
Down by six with two minutes remaining, missed free throws by the Lady Tigers kept the door open for the Lady Marshals, but the shots just wouldn’t fall on a night they shot 28% from the floor.
Three seniors played their final game in the orange and blue – Tera Colson, Lorin Powell and Whitnee Miller and manager Emily Bridges. Langhi credited the seniors with helping lead the Lady Marshals back to the forefront of Region One basketball and helping to smooth the way for the younger players.
“They were a joy to coach”, Langhi said. “Great kids with a bright future. That’s three pairs of shoes that we have to figure out someone to step up into next year.”
Langhi led the way with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Marshals. They finish with a record of 23-9. Murray will play #1 ranked Ryle, Region Nine winner, on March 13 at 8:00 p.m. in the first round of the KHSAA Sweet Sixteen State Tournament at Rupp Arena.
Marshall 9 16 25 29
Murray 6 16 30 38
Marshall: Langhi 10, Conner 8, Colson 5, Jezik 4, Powell 2
Murray: Gierhart 15, Curtis 13, Carver 10
Marshall: TFG 11/40, 3PT 2/12, FT 5/5, AST 3, REB 24, PF 16, TO 4
Murray: TFG 13/32, 3 PT 4/12, FT 8/18, AST 11, REB 26, PF 8, TO 4