In a matchup of the 14th Region’s best team against the 14th Region’s best player, Jenkins’ Whitney Creech demonstrated why she may one day be ranked among the best girls basketball players in eastern Kentucky history.
With two Leslie County defenders chasing her the length of the court the entire game, the Jenkins senior scored 48 points to end Leslie County’s three-year run as 14th Region All “A” Classic champions. The Lady Cavaliers pulled away in the fourth quarter, led by 24 points in the period by Creech, to win 70-61 and advance to the semifinals on Friday at Perry Central.
“It’s a huge win for our girls. This region is so competitive,” said Jenkins coach Ashley Addington,” but if we play like we did tonight I have no doubt we can take it.”
It was a slightly below average night for Creech, who averages just over 50 points a game. Scoring 48 against the Lady Eagles, the only undefeated team against 14th Region competition coming into the night, made it memorable.
“This is the first time I can recall us beating Leslie County, even going back to when I played,” said Addington, a 2002 Jenkins graduate.
Leslie’s defense seemed to bother Jenkins early, plus Griffith scored six points in the first quarter while Kaley Collett and Cadie Gay added four each to help the Lady Eagles build an 18-12 lead.
The Leslie advantage grew to 14 early in the second quarter before Jenkins fought back. Emilee Rose hit a 3-pointer to start the comeback, then Creech reeled off seven straight points as Jenkins went up by one. Griffith and Shelby Sparks answered as the Lady Eagles moved ahead 31-28 at halftime.
The lead changed hands seven times in the third quarter with Griffith hitting one of two on three straight trips to the free throw line in the final 1:31 to put Leslie up 45-44 at the end of the period.
A 3-pointer by Lexie Meyers after a basket by Hailee Mullins pulled Leslie even with five minutes to play, but Creech took over from there. Creech started the decisive run with a 3-pointer, one of only two on the night for the Western Kentucky University signee, then added a jumper, then scored off the fast break, then added one of two at the line.
Madisyn Combs hit a 3-pointer to get the Lady Eagles as close as six with 1:40 left, but Leslie went cold after that and Creech hit four free throws to push the lead to 11.
Double teams are nothing new for Creech, who is among the state’s all-time leading scorers in her six years as a starter.
“If it’s not a chaser it’s a double team. We’ve even seen a triple team thrown at her,” Addington said. “Her teammates helped tonight by making shots. I also thought our defense was unbelievable, and our girls played extremely smart.”
Addington said Creech handles all the attention with class.
“You don’t know if she’s happy or upset. She keeps her composure,” said the Jenkins coach. “She is like that on and off the court. I think that’s what helps her in the games. She never loses control of her emotions. She put us on her shoulders tonight.”
Jenkins advances to play Breathitt County on Friday in the semifinals.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134