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South Oldham's Jordann McGuffin hit a lay-up with 8.9 seconds to play to give the Lady Dragons a 37-36 upset win over Shelby County in the 8th Region Tournament first round Tuesday at Shelby County High School.
It looked as though the Lady Rockets would advance as they led 36-33, but South cut the lead to one with a short jumper, and then a rough exchange near midcourt resulted in South's Lauren Jones scooping up a loose ball and hitting a streaking McGuffin for the game's final points.
The Lady Rockets led 14-8 after the first quarter and 24-17 at halftime, but struggled to score in the second half, totaling just 12 points over the game's final 16 minutes.
"I thought we started well with a 7-2 run, and we had the lead at halftime and were outrebounding them," SCHS head coach Sally Zimmerman said. "I was feeling pretty good heading into halftime.
"But in the second half we just couldn't score. I didn't think it was so much what South Oldham did -- I don't know why, but we just couldn't get a basket.
South Oldham appeared to be trying to foul when forcing that final turnover, but the officials -- as they had all game -- let the rough play go, resulting in South taking the lead for good.
South Oldham then forced another steal on the ensuing inbounds pass, but Shelby would get one final shot after a South Oldham turnover. However, several seconds inexplicably ran off the clock, forcing the Lady Rockets to inbound the ball with just 1.9 seconds remaining. Shelby couldn't get a shot off.
"In hindsight I guess we should've gotten the ball into Raechele (Gray's) hands more in scoring opportunities," Zimmerman said. "It's nobody's fault, we just had trouble finding the basket. Then a couple of things didn't go our way at the end. Maybe it just wasn't meant to be."
It may have been that South Oldham was just due.
The Lady Rockets knocked South out of the region tournament in the semifinals two years ago and in the finals last year.
Shelby County pushed the lead to 10 points in the second quarter, 23-12, before South reeled off four-straight behind their All-region candidate Lauren Jones to close the gap just before halftime.
Jones finished with a game-high 23 points, but needed 22 shots to get there.
"I thought we played well enough defensively to win," Zimmerman said. "Jones had 23 points, but she had to work for every shot. Haleigh did a tremendous job on her."
LeCompte finished with 11 points, including two three-pointers, and Allison Morris also had 11. But both did most of their work in the first half.
Despite the loss, Zimmerman was still upbeat about the season the Lady Rockets put together, finishing the year with a 21-9 record.
"We're disappointed as we should be, but one game doesn't define one person's career or a team's season," she said. "We over-achieved in a lot of ways this year. If you go back to the (season opener at) Dunbar, or (the road loss) at Mercy, you can see just how much this team improved. To win five of six with our tough February schedule and win the district tournament, this team improved so much throughout the year. If this is the worst disappointment these girls have to face, that would be great."
South Oldham will face Simon Kenton in the 8th Region semifinals at 7:45 p.m. tonight. Walton-Verona and Anderson County will meet in the first game at 6 p.m. The winners will then meet in the championship game Saturday at 7 p.m.