Four Casey players - Tara Weddle, Kayla McFarland, Megan Pittman and Lauren Hatter - scored as the Rebels grabbed a quick 8-0 advantage. The Rebels, who play Rockcastle County today for the regional title, connected on six of their first seven shots and seven of 12 overall to lead 18-8 after one period.
Lincoln was as cold and icy as the weather outside and went 3-for-16 from the field in the first period. The Patriots missed their first six shots before Savannah Lane scored off the baseline to cut the lead to 8-2.
"Casey took it to us and got off to a great start," Lincoln coach Don Story said. "We didn't do a good job of getting out on their shooters and I thought they played excellent defense against us, especially in the first half. They do a great job of spacing on defense. They position themselves well and make it difficult for you to get a shot off."
The Rebels limited Jessica Upchurch, who led the Patriots in their win over Wayne County on Monday, to just six points while Nikki Bustle was held to three points.
As hot as the Rebels were in the first period, they were just as cold during the second frame. Casey led 21-10 after Hatter nailed the Rebels' fourth trey of the half, but they went almost four minutes without another basket.
Meanwhile, Lincoln began to heat up. Reserve Keira Henderson and Upchurch scored three points each during a 7-0 run to trim the lead to 21-17, but Lincoln continued to trail 27-22 at the intermission.
"We told the kids that if we had any lead at the half, that we would be fine," Salyers said.
Lincoln (24-7) connected on seven of 10 shots during the third period thanks to the high-low combination of Kendra Brown and Henderson. Brown, who led all with 18 points, scored eight points, mainly from 15-feet, while Henderson scored inside as the Patriots rallied to tie the score at 37-37 with :20 left.
However, they went to sleep on an inbounds pass from Kayla McFarland to freshman Nicole Coffman just before the period ended and the Rebels led 39-37 entering the final frame.
"That was huge," Salyers said. "Then we came out and scored the first nine points in the fourth quarter when Brown and Henderson got into foul trouble."
"It broke all the momentum that we had worked so hard to get," Story said. "Keira and Kendra made great strides to get us back in the game, then when Keira fouled out (with 5:29 to play) it changed everything. We had to foul to try to get back in the game."
And foul they did.
The Patriots were whistled for 21 fouls in the second half and Casey shot 36 free throws, including 32 straight, before Brown finally went to the line in an attempt to complete a 3-point play with 32 seconds left in the game.
Casey went just 3-for-5 from the charity stripe during the first half, but cashed 27 of 36 tries after halftime.
Coffman, who scored 15 points off the bench, cashed seven of eight in the final quarter.
Casey took just 33 shots from the field while connecting on 14 for a 42 percent mark while Lincoln hit 18 of 53 tries for 34 percent. Casey cashed 30 of 41 free throw attempts compared to just seven of 12 for Lincoln. Pittman grabbed eight boards as Casey won the rebounding battle 32-30. Brown led Lincoln with seven.
CASEY (27-3) - Kara Weddle 5, Tara Weddle 7, Kayla McFarland 5, Lauren Hatter 17, Megan Pittman 12, Nicole Coffman 15, Amanda Johnson 1.
LINCOLN (24-7) - Savannah Lane 10, Alissa Patterson 2, Kendra Brown 18, Jessica Upchurch 6, Nikki Bustle 3, Keira Henderson 7, Kierra Ford 1.Casey18273962Lincoln8223747