Lady Purples fall in opening round of the KHSAA Sweet 16

Lady Purples fall in opening round of the KHSAA Sweet 16
Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 5:10 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - After a season of tough matchups, injuries, adversity off the court, and another state tournament berth, the Bowling Green Lady Purples’ season has come to the end.

The Lady Purples (24-11) fell to the Owensboro Catholic Lady Aces, 54-51, in the first round of the 2023 KHSAA Sweet 16.

“They’ve been the most resilient group I’ve ever coached, and it hurts not finishing it right there. But any time in the state of Kentucky, you can finish your season here, in front of all these people and you all, it’s been a success,” head coach Calvin Head said. “So I’m proud of my group, I wouldn’t trade them for the world...I love them like my own.”

Katy Smiley led the way with 20 points and three rebounds on 6-13 shooting. Meadow Tisdale followed with 11 points and 8 rebounds. Saniyah Shelton had 10 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Tanaya Bailey had 8 points and 3 rebounds.

These two teams had met before once already this season, a month ago, where the Lady Purples came out on top 55-54, so they were already familiar with each other.

It was a rough start for the 4th Region champs as they couldn’t buy a bucket and had multiple turnovers, only scoring two points within the first five minutes of the game. The Lady Purples would end the quarter down five with Owensboro Catholic (26-9) up 11-6.

In the second quarter, they settled down and started playing their game. They only gave up two points in the first four and a half minutes of the second quarter while they marched back and took their first lead, 14-13 after a Tanaya Bailey bucket.

Bowling Green would take a 19-18 lead heading into the locker room.

Whatever secret stuff the Lady Aces took in the locker room, it worked because they came out on fire in the second half. After only making one three pointer in the first half, in the third quarter, the Aces shot 5-6 from behind the line, for the second half they shot 8-9, and overall for the game they made 9-17 threes.

While Riney and Riley led the way in the first, Hailey Johnson lit it up from the field in the second. Defensively, the Lady Purples didn’t have an answer.

But on the other side, the heart and no-quit effort of Bowling Green kept them in the game until the very last minute. Whenever Owensboro Catholic started to look like they would pull away, the Purples would answer whether it was a floater, a lay up or Katy Smiley lighting it up from behind the arc.

Catholic took a 50-47 lead after Lauren Keelin made a three. Nataya Wardlow would come in for an injured Bailey and knock down the free throws to make it a two point game. Bailey would not return for the rest of the game after being tripped and injured.

With 22 seconds left in the game, Meadow Tisdale gave it to JaSiyah Franklin on the wing for a wide open three point attempt but it rolled off the rim, giving the Aces possession.

Owensboro Catholic would eventually make the free throws on the other end, icing the game and ending Bowling Green’s season.

“I just hope that we left a legacy of competing and embracing the grind, just so the younger ones know that they can comeback to Rupp and keep the history going,” senior forward Tanaya Bailey said. “Just keep the wins going, keep up the energy and compete with everybody.”

The Lady Purples finish the season with another district title, their fourth straight region title, and they add on to the Bowling Green Lady Purples legacy.