Report by Blake Smith
The Melbourne Lady Bearkatz rolled to their third consecutive regional championship at home Saturday afternoon, as they defeated the Salem Lady Greyhounds 67-43.
It was all Katz early, as Melbourne was a perfect 6-6 from three-point range en route to a 24 point first quarter.
They increased their lead to 34-20 at halftime, yet were outscored by two in the third quarter.
The Lady Katz could sense the trophy was in their grasp and outscored Salem 16-4 in the final quarter to set the final margin of victory at 24 points.
All five Lady Bearkatz starters reached double figures in the game: Jenna Lawrence led all scorers with 18 points, followed by Josie Roark with 13, Kenley McCarn with 12, Kiley Webb with 11, and Kilee Humphries with 10.
Melbourne improves to 29-1 overall, and will have a quick turnaround, as their state tournament opening round game will be Friday morning at 10:00, as they take on the Riverside Lady Rebels in a rematch of the 2019 state championship game.
The Melbourne Bearkatz reached the regional championship game for the first time since 2010 and were seeking their first regional title since 2009 Saturday night, taking on the White County Central Bears.
The Bearkatz had the momentum even before the opening tip, as injured senior Layton Hennings made his way into the arena to support his teammates in their quest.
However, as was the case in their semifinal match, the Katz offense was stagnant early, trailing 11-5 after one-quarter of play.
The roles reversed in the second period, however, as a late run gave Melbourne a 17-16 halftime advantage.
The third quarter proved like the first, as White County outscored the Katz 14-6 in the period, taking a seven-point lead into the final period.
Melbourne made three, three-pointers in the period, but it wasn’t enough to withstand the Bears’ onslaught, as White County would take the game and the championship by a final score of 48-39.
Jaxon Sanders led all scorers with 15, and Remi Lawrence added 10.
The Bearkatz drop to 18-8 overall and await their first-round matchup in the state tournament Thursday at 1:00 p.m. against Buffalo Island Central.