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Lady Rockets upset No. 16 Franklin County

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By Laura Clark

The Lady Rockets proved they may be the underdogs to spoil someone’s postseason with their 50-42 upset of visiting Franklin County on Monday.

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The Lady Flyers (19-6) are 16th in the state according to The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhaus ratings, and they boast a tall, strong lineup.

“A lot of people didn’t expect us to win this game,” Shelby Coach Phillip Conder said. “A lot of people don’t expect us to win this region. But we’re legitimate contenders if we play like we did tonight.”

The Lady Rockets (10-14) looked at Franklin as an opportunity to rebound from Friday’s 53-32 loss at Tates Creek.

“In the Tates Creek game we got down, 13-0, but we battled back in the third,” Conder said. “Why not play with that intensity to start out? The theme of tonight was to execute and try to be as perfect as we could, and I think we were pretty dang close.”

Shelby’s Taylor Shaw nailed four 3-pointers in the first half, and Marissa Raisor, in her second game off an ankle injury, came up with a steal and layup in the final seconds to give her team a 26-20 halftime lead.

In the second half, Lady Flyer Chelsea Craig tied the score at 32 when she finished a 3-point play with 3:34 left in the third. But Shelby was able to pull ahead, 41-37, heading into the fourth by creating smart shot opportunities through ball movement.

“I think we better understand that when we play as a team we get more accomplished,” Raisor said. “We all have to show up [mentally].”

The fourth quarter was an exercise in patience for the Lady Rockets.

They played hurried at its outset, settling for one-shot trips down the court and throwing away a couple passes. But the Lady Flyers just as panicked in its comeback attempt, and Shelby took a decisive lead by controlling the ball even as Franklin County's defense was stepping on their Nikes.

The job of breaking the press often left to sophomore guard Leeara Cardwell.

“Leeara did a great job in the third and fourth quarters, when they’d run that trap past the halfcourt,” Conder said. “She’d back up, and then she could see the alleys and spaces where she could throw the ball.”

Defensively, the Lady Rockets started the final stretch in man-to-man, but switched to zone, which was more effective shutting down Craig in the paint.

And that size factor? Conder said with the way his players blocked out, it didn’t matter. The Lady Rockets outrebounded Franklin, 37-33, and scored seven more points off putbacks than did the Lady Flyers.

“I couldn’t find any faults in what we did tonight,” Conder said. “This is a big win. We’ve learned from the losses; now we have to continue to win.”