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Lady Demons fall just short of upset bid at All 'A' Classic

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By Paul Gable

Tears streamed down the faces of Chelsea West, Jaclyn Stith and Tori Wilhoit. The tears that welled in Mark Wilhoit's eyes told the story for the Williamstown High School girls' basketball team.

After 32 minutes and falling behind by as many as 13, the Lady Demons fell just short of upsetting Trimble County High School at Trimble County in the finals of the 8th Region All "A" Classic.

Trailing 42-38 with 34 seconds remaining, Williamstown got a basket from Stith, cutting the deficit to 40-38. Trimble County would have an opportunity to extend its lead seconds later, but Ashleigh Miller missed a one-and-one opportunity and Williamstown grabbed the rebound, giving the Lady Demons a final opportunity to win the game.

However, disaster set in for Williamstown. Following a timeout with 10 seconds left, a chance for an upset vanished when the Lady Demons turned the ball over with one second left, prompting the celebration to begin on Trimble County's bench as they won 42-40 on their home court.

"It feels terrible, and I can't explain it. Unless you have been in that situation, you don't know how it feels. We deserved it. We worked so hard. We have so much heart, we played so hard and that is why we got to where we are," said Stith, who finished with a team high 18 points, 13 of which came in the fourth quarter.

Her sentiments were echoed by coach Wilhoit.

"I told the girls after the game not to hang their heads, and I apologized to the seniors for not being able to get this for them. I told the other girls to be hungry next season. Obviously, I am disappointed, and I called the wrong play at the end of the game. It's my fault," he said.

After three quarters, the Lady Demons found themselves trailing 36-24 and that's when Stith took over, scoring the first five points of the quarter to cut the deficit to 38-29. With 4:42 remaining, Stith buried a three-pointer to trim Trimble County's advantage to 40-32. Over the next four minutes, Trimble County would commit five turnovers, allowing Williamstown an opportunity to claw its way back into the game.

"We refuse to lose," Stith said.

Both teams came out the gates hot, exchanging shots before Trimble County settled in for a 13-12 lead on a basket by Rachael Barnes, who finished with 16 points, 14 of which came in the second half. The back-and-forth battle continued into the second quarter, but not before Trimble County's advantage extended to 18-12 following a three-pointer by Katie Collins.

Williamstown would respond with a basket by Julie Knarr and the Lady Demons held the ball for the final two minutes of the half, ending with a three pointer by Amber Vance, sending Williamstown into the locker room trailing 20-18.

The halftime break did little to cool off Trimble County, who opened the third quarter on a 10-0 run to take what appeared to be a commanding 30-18 lead, but the Lady Demons were far from conceding the game.

Backed by the play of Stith, West and Tori Wilhoit, the Lady Demons managed to rally late in the quarter to keep Trimble County at bay.

"We dug ourselves in a hole, but it was one heck of an effort to get back into the game. I've got one heck of a team, and they don't know the word quit. We could have folded, and we didn't. The girls are starting to believe in themselves," coach Wilhoit said.

Following Stith's 18 points, West scored nine, Wilhoit scored eight, Vance scored three and Knarr had two points for the Lady Demons. Stith, West and Wilhoit were all named to the All-Tournament Team.

The Lady Demons advanced to the final by defeating Eminence 43-15.

Lady Demons "Snow" over Gallatin County

Sometimes it helps to be in the right place at the right time.

With her team tied 44-44 in the first round of the 8th Region All "A" Classic at Trimble County High School on Jan. 16, Williamstown junior forward Melissa Snow found herself with the basketball and a wide open look at the basket with less than five seconds remaining following a missed free throw by teammate Jaclyn Stith.

Snow put up a jumper that rattled its way through the basket, lifting the Lady Demons to a 46-44 win over Gallatin County. It was Williamstown's second win in approximately three weeks over the Lady Wildcats.

"When I saw the loose ball, the only thought that went through my mind was I had to get it. Then when I shot it, I was thinking backboard, backboard, backboard. I am surprised it went in, and I have never been this excited before. It was a total team effort. If it wasn't for them scoring, my shot wouldn't have been possible," said Snow, who only played the final 54 seconds of the game after Williamstown's Taylor Eldridge fouled out.

Williamstown head coach Mark Wilhoit attributed the victory to his team's unwillingness to give up.

"The kids played hard, and they never quit. Gallatin County did not do a good job of boxing out, Melissa found the ball and she stepped up for us," Wilhoit said.

Heading into the fourth quarter, the Lady Demons held a 32-23 lead and that's when things got dicey for Williamstown as Gallatin County opened the final quarter on a 7-2 run, cutting the deficit to 34-30 with just over six minutes remaining.

Stith responded with back-to-back baskets, but the Lady Wildcats refused to give in easily, taking a 38-37 lead on a three-pointer by Ashley Jones, who finished with a game-high 24 points with 3:44 remaining. In the final three minutes, both teams combined for four lead changes, with Gallatin County's final advantage coming with just under 54 seconds remaining when Christina Balsiger hit one free-throw to give the Lady Wildcats a 44-41 advantage.

That's when Williamstown stepped up its play, as Stith hit two free-throws and Amber Vance forced a tie-up to give the Lady Demons the ball in the final seconds.

Stith would again be sent to the free throw line after being fouled by Emily Jones, hitting one prior to Snow's game winning shot.

"We were expecting them to make a run, but we held our ground and didn't give up. It paid off for us," Williamstown senior Julie Knarr said.

The strong finish was a complete opposite of what Williamstown encountered the first six minutes of the game, as they were held scoreless, prompting Wilhoit to call a timeout.

"I wanted to settle them down, and we responded," Wilhoit said.

Following the timeout, the Lady Demons responded with a seven-point run, started with back-to-back baskets by Knarr and shots from Stith, knotting the game at 7-7 after one quarter.