One year ago, Male’s season ended in a blowout loss to Sacred Heart in the region semifinals.
The Bulldogs turned the tables on the Valkyries Friday night.
Male led wire to wire in a 70-37 rout over Sacred Heart in the Seventh Region semifinals at Bellarmine. The Bulldogs advance to Monday’s region final at Valley High School against Manual.
“All the credit goes to the coaches and players,” said Male head coach Champ Ligon. “They’ve worked so hard the last two or three weeks. We had a lot of internal drama most of the season. But the last two or three weeks, everybody dedicated themselves to the cause. And it’s not done yet. We have to take care of business on Monday.
“I’ve never seen a team prepare as hard for a game as they did for this one.”
The Bulldogs closed the first quarter on a 10-0 run to take an early 16-4 lead. Their advantage only grew from there, as Male allowed just one Sacred Heart basket in the second quarter. The Valkyries were 3 of 27 (11.1 percent) from the floor in the first half and faced an insurmountable 27-point deficit at halftime.
For the game, Male outrebounded Sacred Heart 50 to 21.
“Male came out and knocked us in the gut, and we didn’t respond,” said Sacred Heart head coach Donna Moir. “They were physically bigger than us at every position. We worried about their second-chance points and their rebounding. And obviously, it showed. They just took it to us.
“I thought we weren’t getting any good shots off our offense. And that’s a tribute to Male. They were ready for us. I thought they played awesome.”
Male senior Cameron Browning led the Bulldogs with a game-high 25 points, 15 of those coming in the first half. Destiny Combs and Alana Striverson also reached double digits before halftime.
On the flip side, Sacred Heart’s trio of Kristen Clemons, Destinee Marshall, and Ashlee Harris scored eight points combined in the first half.
“We figured if we could control them and make some of the other players step up and beat us, we thought we’d be successful,” said Ligon. “I think with Sacred Heart, they had some young players and I think they came out tight.
“We really came out from the start on defense, and I think that got them a little rattled.”
The Bulldogs quickly turn their attention toward their arch rival Manual. The Crimsons defeated Eastern to punch their ticket to Monday’s region final.
“We just had a great effort. Hopefully, we can do that Monday because if we don’t, it doesn’t really mean anything.
“It’s not done by any means. We have to come back tomorrow and start working at it.”
For Sacred Heart, the season ends with a final record of 24-8. Moir said multiple times this season how much she enjoyed coaching this team. And with Friday’s game being the last for senior Ashlee Harris, the loss a little more difficult to swallow.
“Ashlee Harris is the epitome of any teammate,” said Moir. “There’s not anybody in the city of Louisville that doesn’t cheer for Ashlee. She’s the hardest working, nicest, best teammate there could be. It’s tough for her because I know how much she wanted it and wanted it for everybody else, and how everyone wanted it for her. So, that’s hard.”