Although it was yet another heroic effort by New Covenant (12-14) standout senior Casy Askins, the Chadwick Lady Cardinals (17-8) had just enough in the tank to overcome the No. 5 seeded Lady Warriors, 66-61, on Wednesday.
Neutralizing a 41-point outburst from Askins was the clutch Chadwick duo of senior Kailyn Rozell and sophomore Shelby Weter.
Rozell notched a team-high 26 points in the Class 1, District 4 semifinal victory for her top-seeded Lady Cardinals.
“She pretty much does everything,” Chadwick head coach David Argo said in regards to Rozell following the win. “[She goes] inside, outside and handles the ball. She demands a lot of attention off that.”
Weter, who is a 5-foot-6 forward and traditionally works in the paint, drained five 3-balls on the evening to help her accumulate 21 big points of her own.
Despite Chadwick’s early scoring success, the Lady Cardinals found themselves in a 21-13 hole in the early moments of the second quarter thanks to a white-hot start by Askins, who already posted 14 points when Chadwick’s deficit reached eight.
The Lady Cardinals would eventually finish the period on a 26-13 run to go up by five at halftime, and after clinging to a 53-51 advantage after three, it was Rozell who took it upon herself to lead the final charge.
“I told my team that we were not losing, I knew we could pull it off,” Rozell said. “Obviously, you still have to work hard and it worked out in our favor.”
Up by two with 3:19 to play in the game, Rozell hit one of her biggest shots of the season – a basket in the low-post while drawing a foul to give her team a 64-59 lead that they would never surrender.
“That was really important,” said Rozell about her big shot. “At that point, I knew our team was getting pumped up. That was just really good for us.”
30 seconds later, Askins would pick up her fifth foul of the game while scrambling for a loose ball, sending her to the bench for the remainder of the contest and closing the door on an illustrious high-school career.
“I could take a deep breath, but I knew the game wasn’t over,” said Argo about Askins’ fifth foul. “It would have really made me nervous if we couldn’t knock our free-throws down.”
Chadwick indeed knocked down its free-throws to salt away a big victory that once again sends it to the district title game for a shot at a fourth consecutive championship.
While enjoying the victory, Argo knows that his team has a big target on its back, which will be eyed by the Bradleyville Lady Eagles on Friday night in Ozark.
“Everyone wants what we have,” Argo added. “We’re going to have to give a better effort, communicate more on the defensive end and shut their good players down.”