9th Region Champs: Holmes Girls Claim Title, Head to State

With under one minute remaining and her team in the double-bonus, Holmes senior and 9th Region tournament MVP Jynea Harris was fouled rebounding a Ryle miss and sank two free throws to give the Bulldogs a 44-42 lead and icing a 45-42 9th Region championship over the Raiders Sunday night at BB&T Arena.

The Bulldogs (28-4) now head to the state tournament -- also at BB&T Arena -- next week, for the first time since 2002.

The opening quarter featured up-and-down, fast-paced play as each team traded baskets until Holmes stalled with one minute to play. With the score tied 10-10, the Bulldogs held the ball near the top of the three-point line for nearly 50 seconds until it ran a play. After a loose ball, Ryle’s Aimee Jump missed a shot in the lane as time expired to keep the score tied at 10.

Momentum was on the Raiders’ side halfway through the second, as senior Madison Jones hit a three-pointer with 4:30 left, giving her team a 16-10 lead and forcing Holmes to call a timeout. Out of the break, Bulldogs’ senior Maurissa Brown put back a Harris miss and was fouled by Jump as her basket counted. After she made the free throw, Ryle’s lead was cut to three, 16-13. Following senior Jenna Carothers’ four points on the Raiders’ two possessions, her team went back up by four. After a three-point play by Brown on the other end, Holmes cut the lead to two. At the break, Ryle led 22-20.

The third quarter was dominated by freshman Lauren Schwartz, as she accounted for six of her teams’ 10 points as the Raiders’ maintained a four-point lead going into the final quarter, 32-28. But Holmes would slowly chip away and turn the scoreboard for the first time since late in the first.

All-tournament team member Maddie Scherr, only an 8th grader having four years of eligibility left at Ryle (24-7), was fouled and made her free throw to put her team up 37-28, Holmes began to turn the tide. Junior Jaynice Stovall sank a key three-pointer to pull her team to within four. Nearly three-and-a-half minutes later, she found herself again on the free throw line for the second time and despite missing the first shot, Stovall made the second, tying the game at 42.

Already in the double-bonus, Holmes put the game away at the foul line, 45-42, with under a minute remaining, sending the Bulldogs to the first ever state tournament held in the Northern Kentucky region at BB&T Arena. Harris led the Bulldogs’ scoring with 14, while Mallory Schwartz contributed 13 points to end her Ryle career.

Holmes will face Russell in the first round of the Sweet 16 on Wednesday, March 9 at 8:00 p.m. Campbell County (24-9) will also represent Northern Kentucky in the KHSAA Sweet 16, tipping off on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. against Trimble County (24-7).

Written by Jason Finnell, RCN contributor

Photo via Covington Independent Public Schools