Paintsville’s Anna Keeton and Elizabeth Williams were the players East Ridge worried about stopping, but Clara Blair’s early offense opened things up for the two scorers in the 15th Region All “A” Classic championship Tuesday night at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
Blair hit four threes in the first half and Williams and Keeton did the rest in the second half as the Lady Tigers won their second 15th Region All “A” Classic title in three years by knocking off East Ridge 66-49.
“I think it was huge having all that experience playing here (the East Kentucky Expo Center),” Paintsville coach Les Trimble said. “We’ve played a lot of games here winning the All ‘A’ and region tournament up here. Smaller teams do well on bigger courts and we seem to shoot well here.”
Keeton and Williams kept their scoring clip going in the championship game. Keeton scored a game-high 28 points and came up with four steals in the win. Williams followed with 17 points and four steals as well. Monday night against Prestonsburg, Williams lit up the East Kentucky Expo Center for 41 points and Keeton scored 28.
Paintsville got some help from Blair as well.
Blair knocked down a three to give Paintsville a 6-4 lead with 4:50 left in the first quarter. Williams followed with a three of her own to push the Lady Tiger lead to 11-4 with 1:22 left in the first Tuesday night.
Paintsville’s Katelyn Newsome opened the second with a three to push the lead to 14-7.
East Ridge’s Kyra Looney knocked down a three to cut the lead to 11-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Looney answered for East Ridge with another three to cut the lead to 14-10 with 6:15 left in the first quarter.
Blair answered with her second three at the 5:23 mark of the second to push the lead to 17-10. Blair knocked down her third three with 3:31 to push the lead to 22-12.
Blair’s fourth three came at the 2:04 mark to push the Paintsville lead to 25-15.
Blair also joined Keeton and Williams in double figures scoring with 14 points. She made four of her seven three-point attempts on the night. Newsome added five points and Ava Hyden scored two in the win.
“I think she gave us a boost early and took some pressure off of Swoop (Williams) and Anna (Keeton),” Trimble said. “She is just a freshmen and she shoots the ball with confidence. She shoots the three well. I think Swoop (Williams) only had three at the break and she played a good game and didn’t force anything. I think that was because of the job Clara (Blair) hitting some big shots early on.
East Ridge’s Sarah Tackett scored the Lady Warriors’ final six points of the first half to cut the Paintsville lead to 28-21 at the break.
Tackett led the way for East Ridge with a team-high 15 points and eight rebounds. Looney added 11 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Haylee Meade just missed double figures scoring with nine points and eight rebounds. Haley Parks, Kelsie Slone and Sylvia Ratliff each scored four points. Leah Wells also scored two points.
Keeton and Williams scored 30 of Paintsville’s 38 second half points.
Williams opened the third with a three to push the lead to 31-21. Keeton added another three with 3:59 left to play to push the lead to 38-25.
Paintsville held a 48-35 lead entering the fourth quarter of play.
The Lady Tigers kept the big lead in the fourth and cruised to their second 15th Region All “A” Classic championship in three years.
Paintsville (16-3) is scheduled to take on West Carter next Wednesday evening at 9:30 p.m. in the opening round of the All “A” Classic state championship.
East Ridge (5-14) is scheduled to visit Lawrence County at 7:30 p.m. next Monday night.