It may not have taken a career night by T.J. Thomas for the Barren County Trojanettes to advance on Monday, but it didn’t hurt that she had one.

Barren had solid contributions from a number of players in its 71-57 win over Warren East in the Fourth Region semifinals at Diddle Arena, but Thomas was the highlight reel as she poured in a career-high 31 points, had five assists and five boards.

“She had a great game. It’s probably the best that I’ve seen her play,” Barren County girls head coach John Butler said. “We needed her shots because every time East made a semi-run, she made a big shot. I was very, very proud of her.”

Thomas’ performance came in the second semifinal game of the night. Franklin-Simpson defeated Monroe County in the first game and will meet Barren County in the regional final tonight at 7 p.m. at Diddle. The winner will advance to next week’s state tournament, also being played in Western’s gym.

It will be the second time in three years the Trojanettes have played for the regional crown. They defeated Clinton County in 2004. Barren beat Franklin, coached by BCHS grad Lex Lindsey, in the region semis that year.

“Franklin (has) a tremendous team. We’ll have to play great,” Butler said. “They have great athletes. They’re very well coached and we’ll have to play our best game we’ve played this year.”

The Trojanettes played an all-around solid game on Monday in order to reach the regional final for the fifth time during Butler’s 12-year tenure.

It was a 14-0 run by the Trojanettes that set the tone for the remainder of the game.

With the game tied at 8 with around three minutes to play in the first quarter, Thomas broke the press applied by the Lady Raiders and hit a jumper in the lane. It was her third basket of the first period.

A short time later, Courtney Thomas fed Sarah Bauer on a shot in the lane, T.J. Thomas hit another jumper in the lane and with 17.2 seconds to play in the first period, Tiffany Jones converted a 3-point play.

The three-minute burst tallied to nine points and a 17-8 Barren County lead by the end of the first period.

It wasn’t over.

Forward Jessica Shelton converted a 3-point play early in the second period and center Bethany Spillman scored on a short jumper in the paint with 1:05 gone in the second period that gave the Trojanettes a 22-8 lead.

“We got a good lift off the bench from Tiffany Jones, a freshman,” Butler said.

The coach also praised the play of his center, who spent much of the night trying to defend East’s 6’2” freshman center Ashley Rainey.

“I thought Bethany Spillman did a good job. She had a double-double,” Butler said.

Spillman posted 13 points and 11 rebounds. She also had three blocks and three steals.

Jones finished with 11 points, while Haley Lindsey had four assists.

It appeared Warren East would immediately answer Barren County’s first-half run, but it never fully recovered.

The Lady Raiders posted a 6-0 run that trimmed the Trojanettes’ lead to 22-14, but the eight-point deficit would be as close as they would get.

Butler said: “We knew they would make their runs. We made enough shots” to answer the Lady Raiders’ rallies.

Barren County posted a 13-4 run over the next three minutes of the second quarter and led by 17 (35-18) with 1:40 to play in the first half on a basket by Jessica Jolly.

East outscored Barren 8-2 the rest of the first half and trailed by 11 points at the break after Rainey scored on an offensive rebound at the buzzer.

East never got closer than nine in the second half.

Rainey was a force for East. She finished with 29 points and 12 rebounds.

The center did not receive much help as the Trojanettes limited East’s other players. Andrea Moore scored 11 points and Julie Crabtree finished with nine.


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