Lynn scores 2,000th career point to lead Adrian
LUVERNE -- Doing what they do so well, the top-seeded Adrian Dragons strung together a pair of impressive second-half runs Tuesday night -- and then held off a furious rally by Murray County Central -- to claim a hard-fought, 61-60, victory in the semifinals of the Section 3A South high school girls' basketball tournament.
In a game between a pair of Red Rock Conference rivals, the Dragons (26-1) opened up an eight-point lead, 39-31, with 12:11 left in the game.
Then -- after the Rebels (19-9) countered with a strong 13-3 surge of their own to earn a 44-42 advantage -- Adrian went on another scoring burst that gave the Dragons a 57-50 lead with 1:13 to play.
But, MCC senior reserve Samantha Leebens entered the game at that point -- and had a huge impact in the game's final 73 seconds.
First, Leebens fired a perfect pass to senior forward Kate Robinson (12 points) on a perfect give-and-go play and with 56 seconds remaining, Adrian's lead was trimmed to 57-52.
Adrian's Sam Lynn, who earlier in the game scored her 2,000th varsity career point, sank a free throw seven seconds later to give the Dragons a 58-52 edge.
But Leebens again fed Robinson inside for another MCC basket and with 36 seconds showing, the score was 58-54.
Lynn was immediately fouled, and again made 1-of-2 from the line, increasing her team's lead to 59-54 with 35 seconds to play.
After a Rebel turnover, Lynn was fouled again -- and this time the senior veteran was good on both shots, giving Adrian a 61-54 advantage with just 16 seconds on the clock.
But Leebens was not finished.
With six seconds left, she banked in a 21-foot 3-pointer from the right wing, trimming the margin to 61-57.
Adrian attempted to inbound the ball long and Robinson came up with a steal and fired a pass to Leebens, who banked another 3-pointer -- from nearly the same spot -- as the buzzer was sounding.
The shot counted, but the Rebels came away one point short.
"I was proud of our effort," said MCC head coach Tom Pryor. "Our girls played their hearts out. Three of them were not feeling the best, but they still gave it everything they had."
Sophomore forward Abby Van Meveren played especially well for the Rebels, scoring a team-high 14 points and pulling down nine rebounds.
The 5-foot-9-inch Van Meveren scored three times on offensive rebounds, including a strong putback that gave MCC a 42-40 lead with 8:27 to play.
Adrian's Karli Meyer, a hard-working 5-9 sophomore center, was perfect on a pair of free throws 43 seconds later, knotting the score at 42-all.
MCC senior Heather Nepp then gave the Rebels their last lead of the game when she sank a shot along the left baseline with 7:21 left.
Meyer (13 points, game-high 14 rebounds, three assists, three steals, two blocks) then fed her low-post teammate, senior Katy Slater, on a block-to-block bounce pass and Slater's basket tied the game at 44-44 with 6:11 to play.
Thirteen seconds later, Lynn (23 points, six assists, three steals) converted a lay-up off a well-timed steal at midcourt, and the Dragons were leading, 46-44.
After a missed Rebel shot, Lynn was fouled on a shot attempt and she made both free throws, giving Adrian a 48-44 advantage with 5:17 remaining in the game.
"As you would expect her to do, Sam really stepped it up late in the game," praised Adrian head coach Randy Strand. "That steal and lay-up was big and then when you get the lead, it's nice to have the ball in her hands."
MCC's Emily Bose, who was held to 12 points and eight rebounds by the swarming Dragon defense, sank a pair of free throws with 4:59 on the clock, making the score 48-46.
Lynn answered with a nifty drive and with 4:28 to play, the Dragons again led by four, 50-46.
Alyssa Schmidt (five points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals) made two free throws as MCC again sliced the lead to two, 50-48.
After an Adrian turnover, the Rebels had the ball and the chance to tie, but Meyer came up with her second shot block of the half and at the 3:18 mark, Dragon Erica Thier (13 points, all in the second half) drained a pair of free throws, making the score 52-48 with 3:18 to play.
Bose connected from the top of the key, again trimming the lead to two points, 52-50.
But again, Lynn came up big for Adrian. After making 1-of-2 free throws to increase the lead to 53-50 at the 2:46 mark, the senior veteran came up with another steal and the Dragons effectively went into their delay game.
Meyer, who was a perfect 7-for-7 at the line, sank two more free throws and the lead was 55-50 with 1:43 left.
Thirty seconds later, Thier (5-of-5 at the stripe) netted a pair of free throws, capping a 15-6 Adrian run and giving the Dragons their 57-50 lead with 1:13 to play.
Thier, who missed her first seven shots and did not score in the first half, keyed Adrian's 11-2 run over a span of just 1:41 early in the second half.
With MCC holding a 29-28 lead, Meyer made a strong pass from the left elbow to Thier in the right corner. Their's 3-point shot was perfect and the Dragons had a 31-29 lead at the 13:52 mark.
On Adrian's next possession, Thier caught another "kick out" pass from Meyer and connected on another 3-pointer, putting the Dragons up five, 34-29, with 13:08 to play.
Robinson answered with a basket for the Rebels, but Lynn scored to put the Dragons back up five, before Adrian executed a beautiful fastbreak play (Meyer to Lynn to Thier) that resulted in a 3-point play by Thier and a 39-31 Adrain lead with 12:11 left.
"That was a nice run right there," said Strand. "Erica scored nine points in less than two minutes and we looked like we getting control. But MCC battled back again."
Van Meveren cleared herself for a mid-range jumper and Colleen Everson (seven points, four assists) connected on a 3-pointer as the Rebels closed the gap to 39-36 with 10:52 to play.
A basket by Nepp at the 10:04 mark and an offensive rebound bucket by Van Meveren with 9:24 on the clock, capped a 9-0 MCC surge and forced Strand to call a timeout with the Rebels holding a 40-39 edge.
"We had changed our defense a bit and we were not rebounding very well," Strand said. "They (the Rebels) were chasing down lots of long rebounds and getting second and third shots. We needed to correct that."
Slater tied the game at 40-all with a free throw, before Van Meveren's putback hoop and Nepp's baseline runner sandwiched Meyer's free throws, giving MCC its last lead of the contest.
The Rebels had earned several leads in the first half, including a 19-13 bulge with 7:07 to play, following a slashing basket down the lane by Robinson (assist Everson).
A close-range jumper by Everson kept the lead at six (21-15) with 4:21 to play.
But the Dragons scored nine of the next 12 points to tie the game at 24-24 all by intermission.
Ashley Thier, who scored seven points for Adrian in the first half and drew praise from Strand for her defensive help, connected on a 3-pointer with 1:01 left to cap the Dragons' half-ending rally.
Adrian had taken an early 6-2 lead on the strength of a trio of free throws by Lynn (13-of-17 at the line) and a 3-point play by Meyer.
A pair of baskets by Robinson, one by Van Meveren and a 3-pointer by Schmidt sparked the Rebels to a 13-9 advantage at the 10:46 mark.
But Adrian continued to chip away at the lead and after working to a halftime tie, took several small leads early in the second half, before Erica Thier got hot sparking the Dragons first big second half run.
The Dragons were 26-of-35 from the line, while the Rebels were 8-of-11.
Lynn now has 2,006 varsity career points and has well over 900 assists.
Adrian plays Southwest Christian Friday in Marshall for the South Sub-Section championship. Gametime is 6 p.m.
MCC 24 36 -- 60
Adrian 24 37 -- 61
MCC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Robinson 0-6-0-12, Schmidt 1-0-2-5, Everson 1-2-0-7, Nepp 0-2-0-4, Leebens 2-0-0-6, Van Meveren 0-7-0-14, Bose 0-3-6-12.
Adrian (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) A.Thier 1-2-0-7, E.Thier 2-1-5-13, Lynn 0-5-13-23, Slater 0-2-1-5, Meyer 0-3-7-13.