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Scherr provides offensive spark Ryle needs to win quarterfinal game in girls state tournament

On a fast-break drive to the basket, Ryle guard Maddie Scherr passes the ball to an open teammate during the state tournament quarterfinal game against George Rogers Clark. (Photos by Bob & Ted Jackson)

By Terry Boehmker

NKyTribune sports reporter

LEXINGTON — The Ryle coaching staff gathered together outside the locker room at halftime of their team’s game against George Rogers Clark in the quarterfinal round of the KHSAA/Sweet 16 girls state basketball tournament on Friday at Rupp Arena.

Unlike their previous game, the Raiders had not scored many points in transition and held a slim 30-26 lead at the halftime break. The coaches were talking about getting their half-court offense in gear and they had an exceptional floor leader to carry out the plan.

Ryle junior point guard Maddie Scherr scored 20 of her team’s 35 points in the second half and the Raiders defeated Clark, 64-51, to advance to the final four in the state playoffs for the first time. The 9th Region champions will play Owensboro Catholic in a semifinal game at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

Ryle senior Jaiden Douthitt squares up on defense against Clark junior guard Kennedy Igo. (Photos by Bob & Ted Jackson)

“We calmed them down (at halftime) and told them, ‘You have to run an offense and you have to play together,'” said Ryle head coach Katie Haitz. “But Maddie really stepped up. She understood that we were struggling on the offensive side and did her role beautifully. I couldn’t have asked for anything more from her.”

Scherr, who was recently named Gatorade Player of the Year in Kentucky, more than likely assured herself a spot on the state all-tournament team with her performance in Friday’s victory. She finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals while committing just two turnovers in 32 minutes.

“Like coach said, we were struggling a little bit offensively,” Scherr said. “Coach kind of told us at halftime, told me and Lauren (Schwartz) mostly, it’s time to step it up. We weren’t finishing our shots and fortunately I was able to drive a lot and get to the basket and even kick it out to get open shots.”

Schwartz, a senior captain, had 13 points, six rebounds and three blocks for the Raiders (31-5). Freshman forward Austin Johnson came off the bench to contribute 11 points and five rebounds in 19 minutes of playing time. The winners ended up with a 40-24 rebounding advantage.

“Credit it all to Ryle,” said Clark coach Robbie Graham. “They guard you, they can score. They’re going to be a very tough out. The coach does a tremendous job. They’re a very dang good team.”

Ryle senior Lauren Schwartz looks for an open lane to the basket as she brings the ball up court. (Photos by Bob & Ted Jackson)

The Cardinals opened the second quarter with a 9-4 run to take a 23-19 lead. Ryle responded by scoring 11 straight points, but Clark senior Jasmine Flowers hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds that trimmed the Raiders’ halftime lead to 30-26.

Scherr had six points, three assists, eight rebounds and two steals in the first half. But that was just the beginning of a big game for one of the nation’s top college prospects in the 2020 graduating class.

In the third quarter, Scherr scored 12 of her team’s 15 points and got the assist on the other basket to help the Raiders take a 45-40 lead. In the final quarter, she made eight of her team’s 17 free throws, snagged a couple more rebounds and blocked a shot to secure her team’s 27th victory by a double-digit margin.

“I can see why she’s ranked top 20 in her class,” coach Graham said of Scherr’s college recruiting profile. “She handles the ball well. She creates space for herself very well. She’s talented. She makes plays and she’s tough.”

Ryle converted 28 of 30 free throw attempts during the game with Scherr going 13-for-13 at the line. The Raiders shot 37 percent (16 of 43) from the field compared to Clark’s 36 percent (18 of 50). The Cardinals’ leading scorer was Flowers with 17 points. Junior guard Kennedy Igo had five points, nine below her season average.

Owensboro Catholic upset Scott County, 62-51, in the first quarterfinal game on Friday. Scott County was the top-ranked team in the state tournament field. That position now belongs to Ryle going into the final four.

After getting off to a 9-6 start this season, Owensboro Catholic has won 20 of its last 21 games. The Aces claimed the All “A” Classic small-school state championship during that successful run, beating Holy Cross and Walton-Verona in the last two games of the tournament.

“We’re going to definitely watch some film and make sure we’re ready for them,” said coach Haitz. “They’re a big, strong team and they’re a disciplined team as well. They move the ball well. They’ve got some nice outside and inside players, so it’ll be another situation just like (Friday).”

RYLE        15  15  15  19 — 64
CLARK      14  12  14  11 — 51

RYLE (31-5): Crittendon 2 0 5, McGregor 2 0 4, Schwartz 4 4 13, Scherr 6 13 26, Douthit 1 2 5, Johnson 1 9 11. Totals: 16 28 64.

CLARK (25-11): Bell 3 1 7, T. Flowers 1 3 5, J. Flowers 6 2 17, Igo 1 3 5. Harrison 5 0 12, Wilson 1 0 3, Byars 1 0 2. Totals: 18 9 51.

3-point goals: R — Crittendon, Schwartz, Scherr, Douthitt. C — J. Flowers 3, Harrison 2, Wilson.

at Rupp Arena, Lexington

Owensboro Catholic (29-7) vs. Ryle (31-5), 6:30 p.m.
Louisville Male (24-7) vs. Pulaski Southwestern (26-5), 8:30 p.m.
Championship game, 2 p.m.

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