CARLISLE | Montgomery County continued its dominance in 10th Region girls basketball by claiming their ninth region crown in 10 years and their second in a row by holding off Campbell County 58-52 in the Nicholas County gym on Wednesday evening.
The Indians (28-6) won their ninth consecutive game and travel to E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green to meet 16th Region champion Ashland Blazer next Thursday afternoon in the KHSAA Girls Sweet Sixteen.
The Lady Camels, who came into the game with an eight-game winning streak, fell to 16-17 after falling to Montgomery in the finals for the second consecutive year. The Indians won last year's title game 47-40 in Alexandria.
The victory did not come easily for Montgomery, even after building a 13-point lead early in the fourth quarter. The Indians distanced themselves from Campbell with a 15-7 third quarter after leading by one at the break.
A 10-2 run sparked Montgomery to a 51-38 lead with 7:28 to play in the game. The run began with back-to-back inside buckets from 6-foot-2 senior center Macie Spence, and following a Molly Kitchen basket after a Campbell steal, Montgomery junior forward Schyler Tipton made a pair of free throws to give the Indians a nine-point lead at the end of the third.
Spence scored 10 seconds into the final frame and junior guard Erica Rogers hit a floater on the baseline to stake Montgomery into its 13-point advantage.
The Lady Camels fought back, exciting their fans with a 10-0 run over a 4:17 span to climb back into the contest. The run began with a Kaytlin Siegmundt free throw and a steal and driving basket from senior Erin Bishop.
Back-to-back driving layups from senior guard Taylor Robinson sliced the Montgomery lead to six and Siegmundt, a 6-3 senior, had a putback and made one of two from the stripe to trim the lead to three at 51-48 with 1:34 left.
The Indians held on to their lead down the stretch at the charity stripe, with Spence sinking a pair with 1:11 to play and two more with 39 seconds before Robinson made two foul shots to cut the lead to three with 28 seconds to play. Montgomery's Olivia Colliver pushed the lead back to four with a free throw with 23 seconds to play before Tipton and Colliver each made a foul shot in the final 16 seconds.
Montgomery coach Janie Robinson was smiling broadly as she watched her team celebrate after the game.
"This is a very smart team, they've done some amazing things and they really bonded together this year," Robinson said. "We looked kind of tight at times tonight but Campbell played very hard and got back into the game in the fourth quarter. But we practice those kind of situations in practice and we kept our poise. I'm really proud of this group and I'm happy I get to coach them another week.
"We played a tough schedule and as hard as this team has worked, I wanted them to have this opportunity. We have a very unselfish team with great chemistry."
Mike Murray, in his second year guiding the Lady Camels, was proud of his team's never-say-die resolve, not only in the title game but during the season.
"It would've been easy to give up when we were 7-15 and just say this isn't our year," Murray said. "But these girls showed the kind of character they have by battling back all year and again tonight. We got down and had to dig ourselves out of a hole and to the girls' credit, they battled back.
"But Montgomery is a hard team to come back against because they've won so many big games over the years. They knocked down their free throws at the end and they thrive on pressure situations."
Murray also saluted his seven seniors--Bishop, Allison Franzen, Kitchen, Megan Oldiges, Paige Painter, Robinson and Siegmundt--after the game.
"I told them that I was sorry," Murray said. "I promised them last year I'd get them seven more points and I just got them one tonight. We have some girls in there who are hurting really bad right now and they mean the world to me.
"I told them I loved them and that they are now standard bearers for our program after getting to the region finals back-to-back for the first time since 1978-1979. We're gonna look a lot different next year and they set the bar very high for our younger players."
Rogers led all scorers with 18 points and joined Spence (17 points) and senior Karla Lockett, who tossed in 11, in double-figure scoring for the Indians.
Robinson led Campbell with 16 points and Siegmundt pitched in 16 in their final game wearing purple and gold.
Mason County junior forward Alivia Bierley and Bracken County junior guard Jordan Wills were named to the all-tournament team.
Campbell 12 19 7 16 --52
Montgomery 13 19 15 11 --58
CC: Kitchen 7, Oldiges 0, Siegmundt 15, Robinson 16, Gray 3, Bishop 4, Franzen 3, Kramer 2, Painter 2, Total 52.
MC: Tipton 5, Lockett 11, Spence 17, Rogers 18, Conyers 0, Colliver 7, Arnett 0, Total 58.
3-pointers: CC 3 (Kitchen, Franzen, Gray), MC 3 (Rogers 2, Colliver).
Records: Campbell County 16-17, Montgomery County 28-6.
10th Region all-tournament team
Karla Lockett Montgomery County
Erica Rogers Montgomery County
Macie Spence Montgomery County
Schyler Tipton Montgomery County
Molly Kitchen Campbell County
Taylor Robinson Campbell County
Kaytlin Siegmundt Campbell County
Madison Eisenmann Bishop Brossart
Abby Stadtmiller Bishop Brossart
Megan Bretz Nicholas County
Reesa Martin Nicholas County
Jordan Wills Bracken County
Sandra Skinner George Rogers Clark
Alivia Bierley Mason County
Bradi Boden Pendleton County