By David Sharp
The third and final 2007-08 basketball match up between Knox County and the Brashear Lady Tigers was a nail biter that went down to the final play.
Brashear freshmen Stephanie Elsea and Abby McKim sank key shots during the final two minutes of the contest, lifting the Lady Tigers (9-10) to a 46-44 victory in the girls’ third place game of the 2008 Brashear Tournament.
The Brashear win snapped a nine of ten game losing skid since January 1. Knox County (10-10) went into the semi-final round winners of six of their last seven contests.
Hailee Kelsey and Jessi Hill scored the game’s first four points for Brashear. Becca Mallett had a solid all around game for Knox County in the post. Mallett sank seven of ten free throws on the day and finished with nine Knox County points.
Knox County took a 6-5 lead when Becca Mallett tossed in a free throw with five seconds remaining on the first quarter clock.
Caroline Slavin and Tessa Ramer sank previous first quarter free throws. Mallett sank a pair of free throws for an 8-7 Knox County edge with 6:02 to play in the second quarter.
Amber Ausmus had two driving lay up buckets during an impressive streak of ten unanswered Lady Eagle points. Amber Ausmus hooked up with Stacey Leckbee for a 12-7 KCHS edge with four minutes to go until halftime. Amber Ausmus finished a leaning drive at the two minute mark for a 16-7 lead.
Stephanie Elsea lit the fuse with a home run ball for a 9-2 scoring response in the final two minutes of the half. Knox County took an 18-16 lead to the dressing room.
Stacey Leckbee canned a three ball at the 3:42 mark of quarter three, helping Knox County build a 29-22 lead. Brashear roared back with a 6-2 burst. Stephanie Elsea and Hailee Kelsey sank key Lady Tiger buckets. Kelsey’s driving bucket with three seconds to play in the period made the score 31-30 in favor of Knox County going into the fourth quarter.
The teams battled throughout an entertaining fourth quarter. Stephanie Elsea gave Brashear a 34-31 lead with a bucket at the 6:20 mark of the final period. Becca Mallett tied the game at 34 with two free throws after Lorrie Peters sank a charity toss seconds earlier.
Amber Ausmus tied the game again, this time at 38 with a pair of free throws. Hailee Kelsey picked up her fourth foul on the play. Kelsey scored a game high 17 points before fouling out in the closing seconds.
Hailee Kelsey sank two BHS free throws with 3:03 to go for a 40-38 edge. Stacey Leckbee tied things up again at 40 with about 2:50 remaining in regulation time.
Abby McKim nailed a critical Brashear basket with 2:32 to play for a 42-40 lead.
Stacey Leckbee had to leave the contest after a fierce battle for a loose ball resulted in a possible broken nose. Leckbee returned to the bench to the cheers of the Knox County fans later but was not able to take the court.
Stephanie Elsea sank two clutch free throws for a 44-40 Brashear lead with a minute to play in the thrilling game. Lorrie Peters powered in a Knox County basket with 40 seconds to play, making it a one possession game at 44-42.
Stephanie Elsea sank two more pressure packed free throws with 20 seconds showing on the fourth quarter clock. Katie Ausmus answered with two Knox County free throws with 10.2 seconds remaining in regulation time.
Brashear held a 46-44 lead. All-district senior Hailee Kelsey fouled out on the play. Knox County’s Becca Mallett fouled out earlier in the fourth quarter. Caroline Slavin had four fouls along with Katie Ausmus and Lorrie Peters for Knox County. Brashear was down to five players at the time.
Brashear missed two free throws with 6.7 seconds remaining in the game and the Lady Tigers clinging to a 46-44 lead.
Knox County missed a driving lay up. Brashear could not inbound the ball after gaining possession, and were whistled for a five second call. The Lady Eagles could not get an inside shot to fall. Amanda Woods rebounded the basketball as time ran down.
Brashear was able to defend well enough to keep the ball out of the basket and won by the 46-44 final score. Both teams did a better job of taking care of the basketball than in their previous games. Knox County turned the ball over an unofficial 11 times to 13 for Brashear.
Senior Jessi Hill backed up Hailee Kelsey’s game high 17 points with ten points. Stephanie Elsea scored nine Lady Tiger points. Emily Ladwig scored five second half points. Abby McKim tossed in four second half points and Caroline Slavin added a Lady Tiger point.
Brashear was 9-15 from the free throw line. Knox County was 15-22 from the charity stripe. "The biggest thing I saw was five or six kids out there working hard," said Brashear coach Sara Williams. "They were moving and trying to get open. They played the game and had a good time."
"We did a better job of keeping them off the boards than before," said Coach Williams. Both teams have two conference games this week.
Brashear travels to Bucklin February 12 and hosts Novinger on February 15. Knox County goes to Schuyler County on Tuesday and hosts Putnam County for the Eagles’ conference finale on Friday.
Stacey Leckbee led Knox County with 11 points, nine coming in the second half. Becca Mallett scored nine KCHS points. Lorrie Peters and Amber Ausmus scored eight points each. Tessa Ramer scored six points and Katie Ausmus added two Knox County points.
"We broke down defensively too many times in the second half," said Knox County coach John Weaver. "You have to give (Brashear) credit. They hit some key shots. They didn’t hit those shots the first two times we played them."
"We switched back and forth between the zone and man to man. They made the right adjustments, attacked and scored on us. You can’t give up lay ups, and you have to find a way to stop (Hailee) Kelsey in the lane. She is a good player."
"They worked hard and won on their home floor," said Weaver.
By David Sharp