January 22nd, 2011

Mingus Leads Cougars To All "A" Final

Chris Jung

Senior Writer

Mingus Leads Cougars To All "A" Final
photo by Chris Jung

Holy Cross junior scores 25 in win over Presentation Academy

Because the Kentucky All "A" Classic regional tournaments construct the brackets based on blind draw, opposed to traditional seeding, Holy Cross High School and Presentation Academy met in the 6th Region All "A" semifinals on Saturday afternoon at DeSales High School, but the game had the talent and the feel of a championship showdown.

And in a battle of talented shooting guards - Holy Cross' Kim Mingus and Pres' Bailey Reeder - it was Mingus who was the difference maker on this day, as the Cougars junior scored a game-high 25 points and led her squad to its 7th straight win, a 62-52 victory, and a berth in the the All "A" regional title game on Sunday against Shawnee.

Mingus' old fashioned three-point play, off a crucial offensive rebound for the Cougars with 4:32 to go in the game, got Holy Cross within one point of the Toppers at 47-46. A minute later, Holy Cross junior Maya Hardin converted a turnaround jumper in the lane to reclaim the lead for the Cougars. It would end up being the game-winning bucket for Holy Cross, as Presentation would not lead again.

"That puts us in the driver's seat by beating (Presentation). It's usually us and them in the finals," said Holy Cross Head Coach Fred Copass. "But we can't overlook (Shawnee). These girls won't. They respect them and they'll be ready tomorrow."

But before they could even think about playing another game on Sunday, Holy Cross had its hand full with a talented Toppers team on Saturday.

Reeder, who had a number of 3-pointers go halfway down and bounce out throughout the game, still finished with 15 points, five steals and two blocked shots in the contest. Her fellow junior guard, Shelby Adams, was also integral in keeping Presentation in the game. Adams finished with a team-high 18 points and four rebounds.

Holy Cross (14-4) had to overcome severe foul trouble early in the game, as Hardin and junior center Julie Skaggs both picked up two fouls each in the first quarter. With those two offensive weapons on the bench for Copass, Mingus took the lead and scored nine of the Cougars' 13 points in the opening period of play.

Holy Cross held a 13-9 advantage after one quarter, despite Adams' buzzer-beating floater in the lane that cut the Toppers' deficit to four points.

"Kim Mingus played a great game," said Copass. "She's been very consistent for us."

In the second quarter, Skaggs picked up her third personal foul at the 5:50 mark and returned to the bench yet again.

Less than a minute later, Adams stripped the ball away from Holy Cross guard Morgan Wimberg, sprinted to the Presentation basket, and was fouled on a layup attempt. She would convert both free throws, tying the game at 16-16 with 4:52 to go before halftime.

Another Adams free throw with 3:55 remaining gave the Toppers the 17-16 lead and Pres seemed to have the advantage as Skaggs and Hardin sat with three fouls each.

But Holy Cross hung tough and got four straight points from freshman guard Josie Hockman off the bench and the Cougars actually took its largest lead of the game with a 28-21 advantage at halftime.

The second half began rather sloppily, as Holy Cross and Presentation traded six consecutive turnovers before Hardin's first basket of the game extended the Cougar lead to 30-21 at the third quarter's 5:54 mark.

Ten seconds later, however, Hardin picked up her fourth personal foul, and once had to be removed from the lineup. Skaggs also earned her fourth with 4:11 to go in the quarter.

After trailing by ten points late in the quarter, Presentation's Reeder finally knocked down her first 3-pointer of the game with 1:48 left in the period, igniting her bench and capping an 8-2 lead to pull Pres within 38-32. Off another Cougar turnover, Reeder knocked down her second-consecutive trey just 13 seconds later, extending the Topper run to 11-2 and pulling Presentation within 38-35.

Then, with just over a minute to go in the third, Presentation junior Ashlee Kirchner banked in a 3-pointer - her's team third straight - and helped Pres erase a 10-point deficit and tie the game at 38-38.

With the score tied 40-40 to begin the final period, Kirchner hit one of two bonus free throws to give Pres its first lead since the first half and the Toppers continued to take advantage of some costly Holy Cross turnovers. The Cougars had four turnovers during its first five possessions of the fourth quarter.

But that's when Mingus stepped up again, converting the aforementioned three-point play off a Sydney Morabito missed free throw and clutch offensive rebound under the basket. And after Hardin's go-ahead bucket with 3:30 left in the game, the junior went on to score six straight points for her team and gave the Cougars breathing room with a 54-50 lead.

"Maya came in, stayed out of (further) foul trouble, handled the ball, and played like the leader that she is," said Copass. "She hit those four free throws in a row, which was just a big boost for us. She finally took over the game for us. For a girl that's only been playing about three years, she sure did step up tonight."

Morabito knocked down two free throws to increase the Holy Cross lead to 56-50 with 1:17 remaining, and then Mingus broke free from the Presentation backcourt press and laid in the breakaway layup for a game-sealing 58-52 lead.

Pres' Michael Ann Humphreys was fouled on a three-point shot attempt with 20 seconds to go, but she missed all three free throw attempts.

Mingus would score one last basket as the final seconds ticked off the clock, capping her huge day for the Cougars.

"It's good to have a game like this," said Mingus. "And yeah, I might have had a lot of points, but it's also other hustle stats that show up for our team that keeps us going. Those are what help me get my points. It's a team thing."

Holy Cross put four players in double figures for the game. Along with Mingus, Morabito (11), Hardin (10) and Hockman (10) also had big games for the Cougars. Skaggs, who fouled out of the game with 4:11 to go in the third quarter, finished with two points and six rebounds.

For Presentation (6-8), Reeder and Adams combined for 33 of the Toppers' 52 points and threatened to score during the entire game.

"We really had to keep our eye out on where (Reeder and Adams) were and kind of shade them a little bit more than any of the other girls, because we knew they could shoot the ball very well and if they would hit (their shots), it would be bad for us," said Mingus.

Other contributors for Presentation included Kirchner (seven points), sophomore Meredith Degner (six points) and sophomore Peyton Andres (ten rebounds). Reeder was named to the 6th Region All "A" Tournament Team following the game.

For Holy Cross, the regional championship game will be familiar territory, as the Cougars have reached and won the Region 6 All "A" Tournament final eight out of the past nine years going into tomorrow's game against Shawnee.

"The All 'A' is probably run better, and to me is a better tournament than the big Sweet 16," said Copass. "They take care of you. It's more of a personal thing; it's not a big event. It's just the way you're treated. These girls got a feel for it last year when we spent six days down there and got in the finals and they want to go back. It means a lot. This probably means more to these girls than probably the regular Sweet 16."

Holy Cross' Hardin echoed those thoughts and says it has even more meaning to the team and entire school.

"It means everything to our school and our school spirit. It also means getting some days off (school) and not doing homework," said a smiling Hardin.

The 6th Region Girls All "A" Classic championship game between Holy Cross and Shawnee is scheduled for 1pm on Sunday at DeSales High School. Presentation will play again on Jan. 27 at PRP.


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