After two frustrating losses to Southwest this season, the Hardin-Central Lady Bulldogs picked a good time to break through against the 10th-ranked Wildcats. The Lady Bulldogs stopped Southwest 52-42 Saturday night in the championship game of the CLAA Tournament at Tina-Avalon.
Although they were out-shot from the field, the Lady Dawgs took advantage of their chances from the free throw line as they chalked up their 11th consecutive victory, second straight tournament title, and a 19-3 overall mark. Hardin-Central hit 18 of 33 free throws, while Southwest made just 8 trips to the stripe for the night and converted 6 of them. The loss was only the second of the season for the Wildcats in 19 games.
Hardin-Central got balanced scoring up and down the roster with Brooke Derstler leading the way with a game-high 16 points. Derstler also grabbed 6 rebounds and 4 steals on the way to being named the Tournament MVP. Allison Oyler and Brianne McGuire added 10 points apiece, with Megan Layman and Reanna Newham chipping in 8 each. McGuire and Newham hit the boards for 7 rebounds each and also had 3 steals apiece as both were selected to the all-tournament team.
Brittany Tutt and Lauren Upton led Southwest with 14 points each.
Hardin-Central jumped out to a 16-6 lead after the opening 8 minutes, but Southwest battled back to cut the Lady Dawgs halftime to 28-21. The Wildcats continued to chip away at Hardin-Central and by the end of the third quarter, the Lady Bulldogs were holding a 41-35 advantage.
The Hardin-Central defense took over in the fourth quarter by holding the Wildcats to a 3-point bucket, a field goal and a pair of free throws. Meanwhile the Lady Bulldogs managed just one field goal over the final 8 minutes, but connected on 9 of 15 attempts from the free throw line. Oyler and Derstler each converted 3 of their 4 free throws, while McGuire knocked down both of her attempts in the fourth frame.