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Ryle wins first-round game in girls state tournament by dictating tempo with pressure defense

Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

LEXINGTON — The Ryle girls basketball team goes into every game with one idea in mind. The Raiders want to create a fast-paced tempo by playing aggressive defense and scoring points in transition.

That’s the strategy that carried Ryle to a 56-29 win over Murray in the first round of the KHSAA/Sweet 16 state tournament on Wednesday at Rupp Arena. The Raiders forced 25 turnovers and got 27 points off them to post their 26th victory by a double-digit margin this season.

Ryle players Maddie Scherr, left, and Brie Crittendon, right, put pressure on Murray ball handler during first round game at state tournament. (Photo by Bob Jackson)

“Our defense creates our offense for us, and (our players) have really bought into that,” said Ryle coach Katie Haitz. “If we’re able to pressure and get it at the speed that we want, more often than not we’re going to win the game.”

Ryle (30-5) advances to the quarterfinals for the second straight year and takes on George Rogers Clark (25-10) at 1:30 p.m. Friday. The teams faced each other in the Louisville Invitational Tournament championship game on Feb. 3 and Ryle came away with 56-45 win.

Murray (28-4) was held to its lowest point total in five years in Wednesday’s season-ending loss to Ryle. The Tigers were limited to 10 field goals in 32 minutes because of the defensive pressure they faced.

“You just have to be extremely sharp and extremely disciplined against them,” said Murray coach Wayne Foust. “We dribbled the ball in spots where you can’t dribble the ball and made some decisions that we don’t normally make. But that’s what happens when you’re sped up and that length (they have) starts to bother you.”

In the second quarter, Ryle scored 10 points off turnovers, including a basket by sophomore Brie Crittendon that put the Raiders ahead 25-7 with 1:16 left in the period. But Murray made a 3-point shot on its final two possessions and reduced the halftime margin to 27-13.

Ryle freshman Austin Johnson puts up a one-handed jump shot over a Murray player. (Photo by Bob Jackson)

Both teams were shooting 45 percent from the field at halftime. But Murray was 5-of-11 with 12 turnovers and Ryle was 11-of-24 with just four turnovers.

The Raiders had a 38-23 lead going into the fourth quarter and put the game away by going 5-of-8 from the field during an 18-6 run. Senior guard Lauren Schwartz got seven of her game-high 15 points in the final period. The team’s other double-figure scorers were juniors Maddie Scherr and Jaiden Douthitt and freshman Austin Johnson with 10 points each.

In the first half, Johnson came off the bench to score six straight points during a 12-0 run that opened up a 19-3 lead for the Raiders.

“It makes us really tough when you have somebody that can come off the bench and is really confident in what she’s doing,” coach Haitz said. “Austin can play at forward or guard for us. I think that’s a huge contribution for us to have somebody like her coming off the bench.”

Ryle ended up shooting 45 percent (18 of 40) from the field compared to Murray’s 38.5 percent (10 of 26). The Raiders had 14 assists with Schwartz getting five and they won the battle on the boards, 24-19, with senior Juliet McGregor pulling down nine rebounds.

Scherr and Crittendon each had six steals during the game and most of them resulted in baskets at the other end of the floor.

“Defense is really important,” Scherr said. “Murray is a team that can hold it and make you play defense for  a long time. We knew that coming into the game, so we were ready defensively.”

The Raiders have a day to prepare for Friday’s rematch with George Rogers Clark. They’ll start by watching video from their earlier victory over the Cardinals in the Louisville Invitational Tournament.

“I think it’s going to be a great game,” coach Haitz said. “Obviously, they’re going to want to prove themselves after they lost to us in the LIT. We’re definitely going to look at that game and what we were successful with and what we were not. They’ve got some great players on their team and and we have to talk about how we’re going to take care of them.”

RYLE         11  16   11  18 — 56
MURRAY     3  10  10    6 — 29

RYLE (30-5): Crittendon 2 2 6, McGregor 1 0 2, Schwartz 5 5 15, Scherr 3 4 10, Douthitt 3 1 10, Johnson 3 4 10, Glore 1 0 2, Crist 0 1 1. Totals: 18 17 56.

MURRAY (28-4): Carver 4 1 9, Turley 1 0 3, Greer 2 2 8, Curtis 2 0 6, Daugherty 1 1 3. Totals: 10 4 29.

3-point goals: R — Douthitt 3. M — Greer 2, Curtis 2, Turley.

at Rupp Arena, Lexington

Scott County (34-1) vs. Owensboro Catholic (28-7), noon
George Rogers Clark (25-10) vs. Ryle (30-5), 1:30 p.m.
Barren County (32-4) vs. Louisville Male (23-7), 6:30 p.m.
Pulaski Southwestern (25-5) vs. North Laurel (31-6), 8 p.m.
Semifinal games, 6:30 and 8 p.m.
Championship game, 2 p.m.

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