It took a little while, but Glasgow’s Shalika Smith made her presence felt Friday night.
The Lady Scotties depend heavily on their big senior center and, after struggling to find her groove against Cumberland County in the first half of the All “A” Classic Region 4 championship game, she began to dominate inside in the second half as she led GHS to a 46-37 victory at Scottie Gym.
The win moves Glasgow into next week’s All “A” Classic state tournament at the Frankfort Convention Center, which begins Wednesday.
“This is awesome and I am so happy for our kids,” said Glasgow coach Justin Stinson. “We’ve worked so hard and, as a program, we’ve done a lot over the last three years. We felt like getting this Class A regional title was something that was missing, and I am just really happy for our kids.
“Fortunately, we did a better job of getting the ball inside in the second half. Shalika made some nice plays and we were able to get some separation. Then, we just made them come out and get us.”
“Glasgow has such a strong inside game with Smith and (Bre) Glover, so we wanted to try and keep the ball from going inside,” said Cumberland County coach Anthony Smith. “But in the second half, Smith was just too tough and we had no answer for that.”
Leading 26-20 as the third period began, Glasgow began to connect inside. The Lady Scotties, behind the ball-handling ability of Elli Bartley, Ashley Smith and Emily Alexander, kept the ball on the perimeter to try and pull the Lady Panthers out of their zone.
When they were able to get through a defensive lane, the Lady Scotties found Smith wide open and she scored all six of Glasgow’s points in the quarter. The Lady Scotties took a 32-27 advantage into the final eight minutes.
“Cumberland County came in wanting to slow the game down and they did a good job of that. We told our kids before the game that Cumberland is a good basketball team and they certainly played well tonight,” Stinson said. “But, like we said after the Metcalfe County game (last week), sometimes you just have to grind it out. And we had to grind one out today.”
Stinson kept the same game plan in the fourth period as he had in the third and it would to perfection. Glasgow kept the ball outside the zone until they found an opening. Smith and Glover scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to give the Lady Scotties a 37-27 advantage with 2:28 to go in the game. That would be as close as Cumberland County would get until the final nine-point margin.
“You always have to talk about surviving the lapses. We have some great kids and I think they’re really buying in and finding a way to win,” Stinson explained. “And that’s big-time important if you’re going to take your program to the next level. Over the last two weeks, I have felt we’ve done a good job of that.”
Shalika Smith led Glasgow with 20 points, while Glover had 18 and Bartley scored five. Alexander rounded out the scoring with three points.
Allie Davidson led Cumberland County with 15 points.
Now, the Lady Scotties must prepare for next week’s All “A” state tournament in Frankfort.
“It will be a tough road at the state. Any time you’re talking about a state tournament, you’re going to face some good competition,” Stinson said. “We’re going to face the winner of the sixth region and that will be either Holy Cross or Presentation, and both of those are good basketball teams.
“We’re excited to be there, but at the same time we’re going to try and stay as long as we can.”