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With a tight first-half full-court press and a steady flow of baskets from three-point range, the Shelby County Lady Rockets roared passed the Woodford County Lady Yellow Jackets last Saturday night 68 to 41, giving the team a third-place finish in the Shelby County Invitation Tournament.
Sally Zimmerman, head coach of the Lady Rockets, said she was proud of how the girls played against a talented Woodford County team.
"It shows that we're headed in the right direction," she said. "We're starting to fit the puzzle together."
The Lady Rockets' defense held Woodford County to just 12 points in the first half and almost kept the Lady Yellow Jackets scoreless during the period. However, the Lady Jackets managed to hit a three with about a minute left in the first quarter to get them on the board.
The Lady Rockets' defense played tenaciously and had four steals on the night and caused 13 turnovers.
Zimmerman said the full court press worked well for the team and that the defense effectively handed Woodford County's height down in the paint.
And it was not just the Lady Rockets' defense that was playing well.
The girls went 8 for 24 from behind the arch on the night and shot 80 percent from the free-throw line in the first half.
Raechele Gray led Shelby County with 16 points, six assists and a steal.
Jennica Garitty helped in the Lady Rockets' offensive effort with 12 points and 13 boards.
While the Lady Rockets were playing well on Saturday night, they were knocked out of qualifying for the championship game the night before by Rockcastle County, 61 to 54.
The girls struggled from the field during the game and hitting only 26 out of 91 attempted shots. Although the Lady Rockets came back strong in the fourth quarter, outscoring Rockcastle 24 to 18, the gap proved to be too much for the Lady Rockets.
Zimmerman said if the shots had been falling that night, the team would have had the chance to play for the championship.
Butler High School went on to defeat Rockcastle County in the championship game.
The tournament, which involved eight teams, was held at SCHS from Dec. 21 to 23. staff photos by Todd Martin
The Lady Rockets trailed Owensboro 31-29 at halftime in the first round of the Lady Rocket Invitational, but pulled away with a big third quarter, outscoring the Lady Devils 23-16 to take control of the game. Shelby went on to win 68-58, pushing the lead to double digits in the final minute.
Owensboro's Miss Basketball candidate Janae Howard had 18 first half points, but was held to just nine in the second half.
Raechele Gray led Shelby County with 17 points, including five three-pointers, and added seven assists and three steals. Haleigh LeCompte chipped in 16 points, and Karissa Nicholson finished with a double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds. Jennica Garitty added six points and 14 rebounds.
Sports Editor Todd Martin contributed to this story.