January 23rd, 2011

Cougars Win All "A" Region Over Shawnee

Chris Jung

Senior Writer

Cougars Win All "A" Region Over Shawnee
photo by Chris Jung

Mingus scores 22 in Holy Cross' 77-50 victory

In last year's All "A" Classic State Tournament, the Holy Cross High School girls basketball team lost to Newport Central Catholic 56-40 in the championship game.

For the players on this season's squad who played on that team and fell short of winning the whole thing, there is unfinished business to attend to.

And with a convincing 77-50 win over Shawnee in Sunday's All "A" Classic 6th Region Championship, the Cougars earned the right to return to the state tourney and take another shot at winning the All "A" title.

Led by 22 points from 6th Region overall MVP Kim Mingus, Holy Cross used an 11-0 run just before halftime to take control of the game and continued to apply pressure in the second half to pick up the 27-point win.

Eeriely similar to the Cougars' semifinal victory over Presentation, Mingus scored the first eight points of the game for her team off of four Shawnee turnovers, and finished with 10 of Holy Cross' 13 total points in the first quarter on Sunday afternoon at DeSales High School.

Joined by junior Maya Hardin and sophomore Sydney Morabito, Mingus and that duo combined for all 25 Holy Cross points, until freshman Josie Hockman's basket with 2:20 in the first half.

"There's your leaders," said Holy Cross Head Coach Fred Copass. "We've been talking about that all the time, that they need to step up and be the leaders and they're doing exactly what they should be doing."

But despite the offensive firepower of those players, Holy Cross found itself up against one the most prolific scorers and rebounders in the state, as Shawnee sophomore center Tearra Banks posed a dominant threat around the basket for the Golden Eagles. At well over 6-0, Banks managed to accumulate a near double-double in the first half, scoring 13 points and pulling down seven rebounds.

To attempt to keep Banks from getting easy lob passes on the block, Copass instructed his team to press the other players and attempt to force turnovers before the ball reached the midcourt line.

"We had to do some things to offset that, but she scored every time she got the ball," said Copass.

Holy Cross was relatively successful in its quest and actually succeeded in forcing Shawnee to commit 19 first-half turnovers.

Other players did begin to chip in for Shawnee and when Jada Jackson's 3-pointer went down with 4:32 to go in the second quarter, Shawnee owned its first lead of the game at 24-23.

Two minutes later, however, a Morabito hard drive to the hoop drew Banks' third personal foul of the game, forcing her to the bench to prevent further fouls. Holy Cross took swift advantage, as Morabito scored nine in the second quarter, Hockman scored four, and the Cougars used an 11-0 run to end the half and take a 34-24 lead to the locker room.

In the second half, Holy Cross refused to take its foot off the accelorator and exhaused a short bench for LaTonya Smith's Shawnee team. And when Holy Cross' Hardin used a ball fake and drove for a layup with 2:44 to go in the third period, Holy Cross suddenly owned a 50-30 lead.

"I think they got a little worn down....got a little tired," said Copass. "They don't play that many players and I think fatigue set in."

To end the third quarter, freshman Taylor Weber stole the ball off a Shawnee inbounds pass and found a wide-open Mingus under the Holy Cross basket. Mingus' bucket was her 18th point of the game and stretched the Cougar lead to the largest of the afternoon, 59-32.

Shawnee's only real hope in the game - Banks - fouled out of the game with 5:26 remaining in the game and her team down 64-40. Banks did finish with 20 points and 13 rebounds.

The fourth quarter belonged to the Holy Cross bench, as sophomore Kelsey Barrick, freshman Angela Jones, freshman Rebecca Miller and sophomore Caroline Brown combined for 11 of the Cougars' 18 points in the final period.

A jumper by  Brown with 3:31 left put Holy Cross ahead by 30 points and had the Cougar bench celebrating its inevitable victory.

Mingus led all scorers with the aforementioned 22, and was joined in double figures by Morabito (15), Hockman (13) and Hardin (11). Hardin, who also converted 5-of-6 free throws, had six rebounds in the game.

Morabito, Hardin and Mingus were all named to the 6th Region All "A" Tournament Team for their efforts. During the two games, Mingus finished with 47 points and proved to be the team leader Copass expects her to be.

The result of the Holy Cross win on Sunday was obviously significant, but it also gave the Cougars its eighth "W" in a row and 15th overall this season. Holy Cross is unbeaten (9-0) against regional foes.

Following the win, Copass was asked if his team was more excited about returning to the All "A" State Tournament or missing school in order to attend.

"It's probably a combination of both," said Copass. "But (the team) got a feel of it last year and all the juniors know what it feels like. It's just a great experience for them and that's why they want to go back."

Holy Cross is scheduled to taken on Harlan High School in All "A" first round action on Wednesday. Tip-off for the game is set for 10:30am and all tourney games will be played on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, KY.


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