There's no question the Murray High Lady Tigers â “ and especially the senior class â “ are proud of their accomplishment of making it to the Touchstone Energy All A Classic Girls State Basketball Tournament for a third year in a row.
Murray (20-2) beat Mayfield 59-29 Friday in the All A First Region Tournament Championship Game and will play the Eighth Region champion, Trimble County (12-5), at 5:30 p.m. today in the Frankfort Convention Center.
"To win three in a row is the best feeling ever," senior Julie Thiede said. "I'm glad to be a part of the first class to ever win three in a row. It's just a great feeling to be able to go to Frankfort again and hopefully we'll finish this All A Tournament with a bang."
Murray coach Rechelle Turner said: "Every year is exciting, and this one was a little extra special because it was a three-peat and it made it the first time in school history we were ever able to do that. Each year you go up, you take a different team and it's a new experience for that team. We're excited about getting able to go to Frankfort and we hope we represent our region well."
The Lady Tigers haven't made it past the first round the past two trips. They did reach the quarterfinals in 2002, 2004 and 2005.
They head into the All A State Tournament with the best record in the First Region, something they weren't sure would happen when senior Kalai Trice went down with a knee injury at the beginning of the year and was lost for the season. Murray has benefited from strong play from Thiede, freshman Maddie Waldrop, eighth-grader Macey Turley and junior Elizabeth Grogan.
"When Kalai went down, that was a big blow for us and we didn't know how the other kids would respond," Turner said. "When one of your teammates goes down, the other has to pick them up and we've been able to do that. Through the toughness of our schedule we've been able to challenge these kids and they've stepped up to it. We've been able to develop depth and things have just come together. We're thankful to God for the blessings that he's given us; we just hope we can go to Frankfort and continue those."
Murray ramped up its defensive pressure during the All A First Region Tournament, and Turner thinks that will be a critical factor in how far her team goes this week. With a win today, the Lady Tigers would play at 10:30 a.m. Friday against the winner of Newport Central Catholic (Ninth Region) and Paintsville (15th Region).
"This team has been built on defense and rebounding all year long," Turner said. "I believe (former Tennessee women's coach) Pat Summitt said it best when she said, 'Defense wins games, but rebounding wins championships,' and I believe that. We have to go and play with a sense of urgency defensively and we have to make sure we control the defensive back boards."
Call James D. Horne, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8661.
Touchstone Energy All A Classic Girls State Basketball Tournament
Frankfort Convention Center today-Sunday
First Round today
Louisville Holy Cross (10-7) vs. Glasgow (14-6), 7:30 a.m.
University Heights (16-1) vs. Harlan (13-6), 9 a.m.
Leslie County (12-7) vs. Sayre (11-5), 10:30 a.m.
Owensboro Catholic (17-2) vs. Louisville Collegiate (6-5), noon
Newport Central Catholic (17-2) vs. Paintsville (11-6), 4 p.m.
Trimble County (12-5) vs. Murray (20-2), 5:30 p.m.
Morgan County (9-7) vs. Bishop Brossart (15-1), 7 p.m.
Danville (10-4) vs. Green County (9-7), 8:30 p.m.
Louisville Holy Cross-Glasgow winner vs. University Heights-Harlan, 7:30 a.m.
Leslie County-Sayre winner vs. Owensboro Catholic-Louisville Collegiate winner, 9 a.m.
Newport Central Catholic-Paintsville winner vs. Trimble County-Murray, 10:30 a.m.
Morgan County-Bishop Brossart winner vs. Danville-Green County winner, noon