NICHOLASVILLE — Something finally just clicked for the Burgin girls.
The Bulldogs were down by 10 points early in the third quarter and still trailed East Jessamine by seven late the period Tuesday when they rallied for a lead, held off a late rally and held on for a 44-40 win in a 46th District Tournament semifinal at West Jessamine.
Now Burgin (11-14) will advance to the regional tournament for the first time since 2006, and will face Mercer County in Thursday’s district final.
Taylor Sanders scored nine points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Burgin, and made a key defensive play to start the decisive run. Randi Burke scored seven of her 11 points in the fourth quarter and added seven boards and Lindsey Monson scored 10 points.
“I’ll tell you, the girls played their butts off in the second half,” Burgin coach Chris Myers said. “We made an adjustment defensively, we just pressed full-court man-to-man. And when we made that adjustment, they struggled to score we got a couple of easy buckets, and that’s where the game turned for us.”
It was 30-23 Jaguars when Sanders drew a charge on Emily Underwood, her third foul, with 2:36 left. Monson delivered on the other end with a jumper to make it 30-25.
“Taylor is going to be huge for us down the stretch. If we have any shot at beating Mercer County, she’s going to have to have that same kind of effort,” Myers said. “She has taken at least 25 charges this season. She is always down there like that. She cleans up on the offensive glass. She does the little things.”
East Jessamine coach Jacqueline Coleman said Underwood’s third foul was the turning point in the game.
“She was working her butt off and was getting chased. And she may have charged, but that was after three or four grabs,” she said. “They just wouldn’t get off of her. And she was going so hard, that things like that happen.”
Sanders then hit a free throw and scored inside, then Burgin forced a turnover on the press which Liz Marcinek turned into a layup with a minute left in the quarter to make it 30-all.
Underwood picked up her fourth foul on another charge with 35 seconds left in the period, and the teams went to the fourth quarter still tied.
But Burgin took control early, getting layups from Monson and Burke in the first 1 1/2 minutes of the quarter for a 34-30 lead.
Burke later converted a Monson offensive rebound into a bucket, then Burke scored on a putback off a missed free throw by Summer Burke to give the Bulldogs a 40-31 lead with 1:59 to go.
Coleman said the Jaguars did not know how to react to the Bulldogs’ spurt.
“When Burgin made their run, I don’t think the girls were ready for it,” she said. “Instead of sticking with the game plan that worked, we got a little nervous and it was really hard.”
Madison Collins’ putback, the first East Jessamine field goal in 9:57, made it 40-33 with 1:30 to play, and the Jaguars began their own comeback
Summer Burke missed the front end of a bonus free throw, and Underwood drained a 3-pointer with 48 seconds to go. After a Burgin turnover, East Jessamine’s Carlie Harrison drilled another 3 to make it 41-39 with 36 seconds left.
After Monson hit one of two free throws with 28 seconds left, Underwood was fouled by Marcinek on a 3-point attempt with 23.9 seconds to go. But Underwood, who scored 13 points, could make just one of three free throws, and Burgin went 2 for 4 at the line from there to seal the win.
Burgin finished 16 for 48 from the floor and 9 for 20 at the line. The Bulldogs were outrebounded 31-28, including 13-12 on the offensive boards, which Myers said was a result of focusing too much on Underwood early.
“Our game plan coming in was to play a box-and-chaser on Underwood, just make sure she wasn’t the one who hurt us,” Myers said. “We were able to contain her, but what was happening was were giving up offensive rebounds. So we said we can still guard Underwood, but we had to keep them off the offensive glass. That turned it.”
Collins added 13 points for East Jessamine (5-19), and Loren Mason had 16 rebounds. The Jaguars went 15 for 44 from the field and hit seven of 19 free throws.
They led 28-18 on Mason’s jumper to open the third quarter, but Randi Burke hit a 3-pointer and Monson scored to make it 30-23 with 3:27 left in the quarter.
46th District Tournament
At West Jessamine
Burgin 12 18 30 44
East Jessamine 13 26 30 40
BURGIN (11-14) — Summer Burke 3, Randi Burke 11, Lindsey Monson 10, Brooke Ransdell 3, Taylor Sanders 9, Vaughn Smith 2, Liz Marcinek 6.
EAST JESSAMINE (5-19) — Emily Underwood 13, Carlie Harrison 3, Madison Collins 13, Maddie Haney 3, Loren Mason 8.