By SCOTT TYLER
H-P Sports Editor
GEORGETOWN — The Rivercrest Lady Rebels were going to make sure Slocum’s Julie Bowman was not going to beat them for the second straight year in the playoffs.
Maybe they should have been more worried about Kathryn Johnson.
With Rivercrest double teaming Bowman wherever she went on the court in the final four minutes, it was Johnson who stepped up making a pair of three pointers in the fourth quarter, including the game winner with 42 seconds left, lifting the Lady Mustangs to a 45-38 Class A, Division I, Region III finals win Friday night at Georgetown High School.
“These girls never quit,” Slocum head coach Barry Gill said. ”I was a little concerned because we had no energy for three quarters but in the fourth quarter they picked it up and found a way to win.”
Slocum (30-5) will advance to the Class A, Division I semi-state game at 2 p.m. today against Falls City with the winner advancing to the state title game.
It was the second straight year Slocum knocked Rivercrest (25-6) out of the playoffs. Last year, Slocum defeated the Lady Rebels 46-43 as Bowman scored 13 of her 17 points in the fourth quarter.
On Friday night, Slocum trailed most of the game against Rivercrest but started to chip away in the fourth quarter and three pointers by Bowman and Johnson tied the game at 34-34 with 4:57 to play.
On Rivercrest’s next possession, Johnson, who had the daunting task of guarding Rivercrest post player and top scorer Monique Savage, blocked Savage’s shot and the ball went to Bowman, who ran down the court and pulled up for a 5-foot bucket to give Slocum a 36-34 lead.
“It was tough guarding her because she was so much taller,” Johnson said of Savage. “But I was ready for her on that block.”
After Bowman’s basket, Rivercrest started to have two players guard her, no matter where the Slocum senior was on the floor. Bowman moved to the corner of the court, pulling both defenders with her and Slocum started to work the clock.
With 3:16 left, Leah O’Dell found Shonda Fletcher wide open under the basket for a layup to give Slocum a 38-34 lead.
Slocum continued to try and play keep away with Rivercrest but steals by Savage and Whitney Savage led two breakaway layups for the Lady Rebels, who tied the game on a Whitney Savage field goal with 1:04 left.
That gave Johnson a chance to make the biggest shot of her high school career.
As Rivercrest continued to double team Bowman, Johnson got the ball wide open on the right wing and with no defensive pressure, the Slocum senior sank the three-pointer to give the Lady Mustangs a 41-38 lead.
“I wanted the ball and I wanted to take that shot for my team,” Johnson said. “This was a very tough game but this team pulled together when we needed to.”
Johnson then came up with a steal off the press and Rivercrest was forced to start fouling. Slocum sealed the game from the free-throw line as Bowman made three free throws and fittingly, Johnson scored the final Slocum point with a free throw with three seconds left.
Bowman finished with a game-high 24 points to go along with eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Bowman, who was 9-of-11 from the free-throw line, scored eight of her 14 second-half points in the fourth quarter.
“Julie did not have a lot of energy at the beginning, but she made a couple of shots to get going,” Gill said. “In the fourth quarter she came up big and got us back in the game.”
Johnson, who had not scored until the fourth quarter finished with seven points, four rebounds and three blocks. She also helped hold Monique Savage to 14 points.
Slocum will play a Falls City team which defeated Harper 73-53 Friday night in the first game of the doubleheader.
Harper had an early lead but fell behind in the late minutes of the third quarter. Falls City (25-5) turned the game into a blowout in the final four minutes of the game.
“What I saw from Falls City is that they will press all the time, on both made baskets and misses,” Gill said. “We really are going to need to stay focused.”
Scott Tyler may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
By SCOTT TYLER