Special to the Journal
BLUE SPRINGS – A year ago, the West Union Lady Eagles watched as the New Albany Lady Bulldogs accepted the Union County Tournament championship trophy after defeating them.
For West Union on Saturday, it was a rematch, but not a repeat.
Helped by a smooth shooting performance by Julianna Garner, the Lady Eagles survived a tightly contested fourth quarter to claim the 2014 county championship trophy, 71-68.
“We set a goal back in July we wanted to be the best team in the county,” West Union head coach Matt Thompson said. “I told the team this could be a springboard for the rest of division play.”
Garner happened at the right time this night for the Lady Eagles (14-7) as well, scoring 32 points, 18 of those in the fourth quarter. Garner was a perfect 20 for 20 shooting free throws, including 14 she knocked down in the fourth quarter.
“After the first half, I got all over her ‘cause she didn’t want the ball,” Thompson said. “She’s a very good free throw shooter.
“What she did tonight was not a fluke.”
Entering the fourth quarter, New Albany held a 52-46 lead.
There were six ties in the final quarter, with West Union holding as much as a 67-63 lead with 33 seconds to play. Samantha Bridges banged home a 3-pointer with 9 seconds left to pull New Albany within 69-68.
Garner scored the last 12 points for her team, including the clinching free throws with 6 seconds remaining. New Albany’s 3-point attempt to tie bounced off the front rim.
“New Albany brings out the best in the county schools,” Lady Bulldogs head coach John Stroud said. “The key was Garner hitting 20 free throws.”
Kala Parker paced the New Albany offense with 16. New Albany led 37-33 at the half.
(B) New Albany 67, Ingomar 52: Ingomar cut a 12 point halftime deficit to 50-47 with 4:38 left on a Kelton Hall 3-pointer, but New Albany closed the contest on a 17-5 run.
Rashad McWilliams hit 19 for New Albany, with Hall scoring 18 for Ingomar.