FRANKFORT — While some teams may have backed away from attacking University Heights’ center Meg Starling this season because of her shot blocking ability, Glasgow High School coach Justin Stinson would have none of that.
Stinson's team went right at the 6’5 senior and the strategy worked as the Lady Scotties (16-6) held Starling scoreless and beat UHA 53-46 Friday in the quarterfinals of the Touchstone Energy All “A” Classic Girls State Basketball Tournament at the Frankfort Convention Center.
“University Heights (17-2) is a really good team, but I am so proud of how our girls defended and responded to adversity. We kept playing and we made some big plays down the stretch,” Stinson explained. “We wanted to go right at Sterling. She blocked some shots, but we leaned on her and when you get into that third and fourth quarter, as we’re going at her and going at her, she starts to take a step back and we get some of those shots to fall that didn’t fall in the first half. “
I was so proud of our kids. Sometimes when you get some shots blocked it gets in your head and you have the tendency to back away and settle for jumpers. I was proud of our kids and how we continued to attack the basket.”
The Lady Scotties advance to Saturday’s semifinals where they will face Owensboro Catholic, which is the tournament's defending champion. Tipoff is set for 9 a.m. CT.
“They were well coached and had a great gameplan,” said UHA coach Taylor Sparks. “I thought we were outmatched inside. They had two quality players (Shalika Smith and Bree Glover) surrounding Meg. I thought she did as good of a job as she could. I didn’t think our guards and forwards did enough to help her out. With our pressure, we wanted to attack them before they got to Meg. We just didn’t do a good job of that.”
The game was tied at 41 with 3:49 to play. Glover scored on a drive to the basket for Glasgow, but UHA’s DeNayla Holmes answered with a jumper.
Glover hit one of two free throws and followed that with a layup to give the Lady Scotties a 46-43 advantage with 2:21 on the clock.
After a big defensive stop on the other end of the floor, Glasgow went to the spread to force the Lady Blazers out of their zone. Ashley Smith was fouled and converted both free throws, and Glover followed with one of two charity tosses.
After another stop by the Lady Scotties, Glasgow got a big bucket from Elli Bartley to make it 51-43 with under a minute to play.
“We had a lot of people step up for us today. Elli and Emily Alexander played well. Bree (Glover) handled the ball a lot and I thought Ashley Smith came in and did a good job and played great defense,” Stinson said. “Their guards are really good, they’re physical and they’re quick. But our guards did a really good job today. And when Shalika got in foul trouble, Heidi Holgate came in and gave us some good minutes. “
It was a total team effort. You don’t beat a team the quality of UHA without contributions from several kids. Our bench is very important to us. You may play 20 minutes or three minutes in a game, but you better come in and make those three minutes count.”
Glover led Glasgow with a double-double, 19 points and 19 rebounds. She also had three assists, five blocks and one steal. Shalika Smith had 11 points, 17 rebounds, four blocks and two steals. Ashley Smith and Bartley had eight points each with Alexander scoring seven.
Holmes led UHA with 20 points in the loss. Lele Grubbs and Demetria Norton had 12 points each.
The game was back and forth through most of the contest. Glasgow led 10-6 after the first quarter and took a 21-19 advantage into the locker room at halftime. The Lady Scotties led 34-33 as the fourth period began.
“We didn’t do a good job of getting to Glover’s left. She’s one of their best ball-handlers and we knew that,” Sparks explained. “We couldn’t turn her right. When we did turn her right, she would stop and give the ball up. But once she got a head of steam up, she just attacked the glass. We couldn’t catch her. Ninety percent of the teams we play don’t attack, they regroup and that plays into our hands. It was a great gameplan on Glasgow’s part.”
Now Stinson must prepare for Owensboro Catholic, who comes into Saturday’s game with a 19-2 record.
“It is about survive and advance. We’re going to enjoy this for about the next hour and then we’re going to turn our focus on Owensboro Catholic,” Stinson said. “You have to do this one step at a time, one step up the ladder. You can’t jump all the way to the top. We’re approaching it one step at a time.”