If at first you don’t succeed… try, try, try, again.”
Webster County had made it to the Second Region title game every single time the past three seasons, only to be denied a spot in the state tournament each and every year.
The Lady Trojans finally got over the hump on Saturday night.
Webster County cranked up the defense to hold Christian County without a single point in the second quarter, and the Lady Trojans were able to hang on in the second half for a 45-32 victory over the Lady Colonels in the Second Region Championship Game at a jam-packed Trojan Gym on Saturday night—a venue that vacated itself after the Lady Trojans had accepted their trophy and cut down the nets as fans went outside to take in a celebratory fireworks show.
“It feels great to do this since we’ve been coming up short the last three years,” Webster County senior Jamie Winstead said. “Finally doing it just feels awesome.”
Webster County clinched the regional title for the first time since 1998, and it will be the Lady Trojans’ fifth trip to the state tournament in school history.
“It’s just an amazing feeling that we were able to do that for our community and just bring everybody together that way,” Webster County senior Jessica Winders said.
“Very big not only for our basketball program but also for the community and school,” Webster County head coach Brandon Fisher said. “This develops a lot more school pride: getting to go up to the state tournament and take the community up there and have a chance to play for a state championship.”
The Lady Trojans will now play 16th Region champion Boyd County on Thursday night at 6:30 p.m., E.T. in the first round of the St. Elizabeth Healthcare/KHSAA Girls’ Sweet 16 State Basketball Tournament at Northern Kentucky University’s BB&T Arena.
Webster County (28-6) led 11-10 at the end of the first quarter, and the Lady Trojans scored 12 points in the second quarter to have 23 points on their side of the scoreboard at halftime.
The Lady Colonels’ side of the scoreboard remain unaltered from the end of the first frame.
The Lady Trojans played stifling defense both on and off the ball, and Webster kept Christian off the glass to not allow the Lady Colonels a single point in an 11-minute period.
“A lot of energy, a lot of effort and contested shots,” said Fisher of the Lady Trojans’ defensive effort during that stretch. “The biggest thing was blocking out. (Christian’s) best offense sometimes is cranking one up there and letting (Trinitee Jackson) go and get it. I thought we contested shots really well and really blocked out and secured the rebound at the end of the play.”
The Lady Trojans outrebounded the Lady Colonels 28-24 for the game—with Winstead hauling down eight rebounds while Winders had seven.
That strong inside presence was at question early in the third quarter when the 6-2 senior Jackson drove into the lane and drew a blocking foul to send Winders to the bench with her fourth foul at the 6:05 mark. Jackson had made the basket, and her three-point play whittled the Lady Trojans’ lead down to 23-13.
The Lady Colonels (23-8) were able to cut it back down to single digits after a 3-pointer from the top of the key by Laderia Gold, but Winstead’s layup just seconds before the buzzer gave Webster County a 33-22 advantage heading into the final frame.
Without Winders in the lineup for much of the period, Winstead did a nice job of filling the void and limiting Jackson and the physical Lady Colonels’ inside opportunities.
But Webster was also sparked by the play of freshmen Adeline McDyer, Mariah Austin and Sadie Wurth—the trio providing valuable minutes off the bench for the Lady Trojans.
“Me, Sadie and Mariah had to step up because (Winders) got into foul trouble,” McDyer said. “We’ve played since seventh grade so we’re used to it, but it’s still nerve-wracking. During practice you practice hard; you practice like you’re going to play. And I feel like that really helped us.”
McDyer did a particularly good job with her interior defense by helping Winstead limit the Lady Colonels’ powerful inside attack.
“We put McDyer in (Winders) place a little bit, and she filled her shoes a little bit,” Fisher said. “She battled and scored a couple of baskets inside on some basket cuts. She guarded really well, and she rebounded really well. And to have to fill shoes like (Winders)…I was really proud of her.”
Winders and Winstead both emphasized how crucial the production of the freshmen class off the bench has been in the postseason.
“I’m so proud of them,” Winstead said. “They may be counted as subs in some books, but they’re not in ours. They’re our team, and they’re as great as we are.”
Christian County narrowed the deficit to 37-29 after a 3-pointer by Laderia Gold and a steal-and-layup by Trinity Jackson, but Webster County junior Karlie Keeney answered by pulling up and banking in a 10-footer on the right side to give the Lady Trojans a 39-29 lead with 2:10 remaining.
The Lady Trojans then sealed the victory by converting free throws in the end—Wurth going 4-for-4 at the charity stripe while Mariah Austin nailed both of her attempts.
“It’s huge,” said Fisher of his freshmen’s poise down the stretch. “For a freshman that’s not mature yet and hasn’t played a lot of varsity basketball to be able to make free throws in the regional championship game…that’s huge. I’m very proud of that effort.”
Webster County was led in the win by Keeney with 12 points—including a pair of 3-pointers in the first half. Winders finished with 10 points, going a perfect 8-of-8 from the free-throw line on the night.
Winstead, Wurth and Marissa Austin each poured in six points while McDyer finished with three. Mariah Austin rounded out the Lady Trojan effort with two points.
Aaliyah Hampton topped all Lady Colonel scorers with 10 points while Jackson tallied nine points and five rebounds. The Lady Trojans were able to prevent the Arkansas State signee from finding her offensive groove inside all night.
“I thought the girls were really dialed in and focused on the game plan,” Fisher said. “We knew we had to surround Jackson inside, and hopefully they didn’t make perimeter shots. They hit a few, but overall I thought our perimeter defense was really good.”
“You just have to play physical and get in her head,” Winders said. “She’s a good player: she’s really strong and knows how to move her body. You just have to play her moves and continue to fight her and she’ll get frustrated.”
That frustration was evident at the 6:32 mark of the second quarter when Winders and Jackson were wrestling for a jump ball, and Jackson’s temper flared—resulting in a technical foul.
The Lady Trojans are back in the state tournament for the first time in 20 years, and the excitement levels are through the roof for both the team and community.
“It’s crazy,” McDyer said. “We haven’t done it in 20 years. But Webster County…we got it. We’ve got to go out and play our hardest and give it our all.”
“It’s always great to get there…but you don’t want to be done,” Fisher said. “You want to be as prepared as you can be going to the state tournament, and hopefully go up there with a chance to win a game.”
That is a common theme with Winders and the rest of the Lady Trojans, who want to keep this historic season rolling.
“We just need to keep pushing and putting our time in, and we’ll get to where we need to go.”
Reach CAMERON BROWN at