MURRAY - For the fifth consecutive year, the Region 1 girls basketball tournament ends with yet another District 4 rematch.
Murray beat McCracken County 53-30 in its Region 1 semifinal Sunday at Murray State and will play Marshall County at 8:15 tonight with a trip to the state tournament at stake. They've faced each other the past two years, and Murray played Calloway County in 2010 and 2011.
"It's almost impossible to get out of our own district," Lady Tigers coach Rechelle Turner said. "And then we always lately seem to meet again in the finals."
The Lady Tigers (27-5) qualified after handling McCracken County (16-16). They trailed 6-2 early after the Lady Mustangs forced a series of turnovers, but a timeout gave them the time they needed to calm their nerves. Murray led 11-8 after the first quarter and 23-12 at halftime.
Lady Mustangs coach Josh Barnett was happy with the strong start.
"We knew we'd have to battle," he said. "I thought our girls, especially early on, we battled and kept the tempo where it needed to be. Halftime, I felt we were still in the game."
The Lady Mustangs had trouble on offense, shooting just 11 of 47 (23.4 percent). Senior Jacqueline Roof finished with just seven points on 2-of-14 shooting. She's been counted upon after the Lady Mustangs lost sophomore Maddye Rice to an injured foot.
"She's been crazy-good," Turner said. "The way she stepped up and led this basketball team to the regional semifinals says a lot about what kind of kid she is and what kind of competitor she is. We felt like if we limited her we would be able to keep them in the 30s."
The Lady Tigers cruised after halftime, scoring 30 points. Freshman Maddie Waldrop finished with another double-double, scoring 15 points and collecting 10 rebounds.
Post players Kayleigh House and Hannah Clark both had strong games, combining for 17 rebounds, as the Lady Tigers were without senior Julie Thiede. She was out with an injured right knee, but Turner expects her to be available for tonight's championship game.
Tonight's championship gives the Lady Tigers, who beat Marshall County twice in the regular season, a chance to avenge their District 4 championship loss to Marshall County. They were outscored 20-1 in the fourth quarter of a 44-24 loss.
"I hope it's a learning experience, to understand you have to play four quarters and you have to stay poised," Turner said. "I thought we absolutely lost our minds in the fourth quarter of the district final. Credit to them: They took it to us.
"We know it's going to take four quarters, and maybe even more, of good basketball. We got to be ready to go."
Murray 11 23 37 53
McCracken County 8 12 23 30
MURRAY â “ Lawson 5, Ma. Turley 6, Armstrong 3, Mo. Turley 2, Duncan 0, Maddie Waldrop 15, House 4, Glynn 0, McDowell 0, Ramey 4, Grogan 9, Clark 5.
Field goals 19/46. 3-pointers 5/9 (Grogan 3, Lawson, Armstrong). Free throws 10/15. Rebounds 43. Fouls 9.
MCCRACKEN COUNTY â “ Baer 4, Alex Smith 10, Lemus 0, Perry 0, Roof 7, Weir 0, Gordham 0, Telfair 4, Womack 2, Schmidt 0, Rocha 3, Lowery 0.
Field goals 11/47. 3-pointers 2/15 (Roof, Rocha). Free throws 6/13. Rebounds 25. Fouls 14.
Call Daniel Paulling, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8662, or follow on Twitter @DanielPaulling.