The Lady Cougars traveled to Owensboro Monday night and came away with a split of two games at Daviess County High School.
After trailing by 15 points at the half of the opening game, the JV Lady Cougars roared back in the second half behind the 21 points of junior Katie Hayes to take a 56-52 win.
The varsity Lady Cougars tried to do the same thing in their game. After trailing by as many as 19 points in the first half, Grayson County pulled back to within seven points several times in the fourth quarter, but could get no closer in a 69-61 loss to the Lady Panthers.
The Lady Cougars had already defeated Daviess County once this season, a 44-41 win back in December at the Hopkins County Central holiday tournament. That game had been close all the way, but the Lady Panthers dominated this time around.
The Lady Cougars never led in this game and were tied just once, at 2-2. Daviess County then outscored the Lady Cougars 16-4 the rest of the period to lead by 12 points, 18-6 at the start of the second period.
Grayson County pulled to within eight points, 20-12 on a Maddie Stewart lay-in at the 6:33 mark, but the Lady Panther responded with a 13-2 run, including eight unanswered, to take their largest lead of the night, 19 points at 33-14 with 2:17 left in the first half.
Grayson County fought back, finishing the second period on a 13-6 run to trail by 12 points, 39-27, at the half. Kaylan Shull and Grace White both hit three-pointers during that stretch.
The Lady Panthers led by as many as 16-points in the third quarter, but an 8-2 run, capped off by a Shull put-back basket with 1:28 left cut the deficit to 10 points, 50-40. Daviess then scored the last four points of the period on a three-pointer by Kirsti Saalwaechter and a free throw from her sister, Sydni Saalwaechter, to lead by 14 points, 54-40 heading into the final period of play.
Daviess still led by 14 points, 58-44 when the Lady Cougars put together a 9-2 run to cut the deficit in half, 60-53 with 2:42 left to play.
Grayson County came to within seven points twice more in the remaining moments, but could never get closer. The Lady Panthers hit 7-of-8 free throws, including 5-of-6 by Kirsti Saalwaechter, in the final 2:04 to ice their win. Sallwaechter led the Lady Panthers with 26 points, while Brooke Lewis had 11.
Stewart led the Lady Cougars, also with 26 points, and added eight rebounds and five steals. Shull scored 18 points and added six rebounds, two assists and two steals.
White had a good game as a starter in this one, scoring nine points and leading the team on the boards with 11 rebounds. Cassidy Swift and Taylor Higdon both scored three points and Swift added three rebounds. Katie Hayes added two points to complete the scoring.
This was a game of two halves, with the Lady Panthers dominating the first half, and the Lady Cougars taking charge in the second.
Grayson County led just once in the first half, 4-3 following two Hayes free throws at the 4:18 mark. Daviess County then outscored the Lady Cougars 14-5 to take an eight-point lead, 17-9 as the second period got started.
Daviess County opened the second period by scoring the first six points, completing a 10-run, to grab a 14-point lead, 23-9 with 4:28 left in the first half.
Grayson County got as close as nine points, 23-14 following a Sarah Pierce three-pointer at the 3:55 mark, but the Lady Panthers closed out the half on a 7-2 run to lead by 15 points, 35-20 at the break.
The Lady Cougars went into defensive mode at the start of the second half, limiting the Lady Panthers to one-and-done in their first five possessions. That allowed Grayson County to go on a 7-0 run, including a Hannah Saltsman three-pointer, to get back to within eight of the lead, 35-27 at the 3:53 mark.
Sydni Sallwaechter stopped the Lady Cougar run with a lay-in with 2:25 left, but the Lady Cougar defense held the Lady Panthers to just four more points in the period and had cut the lead to just six points, 41-35 heading into the fourth quarter.
And the fourth quarter belonged to Hayes. The junior scored 12 of her game-high 21 points in the final period as she helped bring her team back.
A Hayes three-pointer at the 5:02 mark made it a three-point game, 43-40, then a Saltsman lay-up at the 4:12 mark cut it to one, 43-42.
Daviess then rebuilt its lead to four points, 48-44 with 2:27 left, but Hayes splashed another three with 2:15 left to make it 48-47.
The Lady Panthers would not go away, though, as they took the lead back up to three points, 52-49 with 52 seconds left to play. Hayes then scored on a lay-in with 42 seconds left to make it 52-51.
Saalwaechter went to the line in the bonus with 22.3 seconds remaining with the chance to put her team up by three, but she missed the front end and Jessica Johnson grabbed the rebound. Sarah Pierce then came up big as she buried a three-pointer with 11.4 seconds left to put the Lady Cougars in front 54-52, the first time they had led since it was 4-3.
Following a timeout, freshman Jodi Decker came up with a steal near half-court and was fouled with less than a second on showing on the clock. Decker calmly hit both free throws to tuck away the comeback win.
Skylar Weldon led Daviess County with 17 points, while Olivia Bradley had 10.
In addition to her 21 points, Hayes added three rebounds, two steals and an assist to her night’s work. Pierce joined Hayes in double figures with 11 points and also had five rebounds. Saltsman, who is just a seventh-grader, came off the bench to score 10 points and dish out three assists.
Johnson scored six points and led the Lady Cougars on the glass with six rebounds. Decker and Sloane Embry both had four points to complete the scoring. Decker also led the team with five assists and three steals.