By DOUG EADS
LEXINGTON — Playing in their first Sweet 16 Girl’s State Tournament game in school history, the Southwestern Lady Warriors showed no sign of shying away from the spotlight in a big-time game or a big-time atmosphere.
Stephen Butcher’s club — facing a 23-12 Collins team — built up as much as a 13-point second half lead, and then hit free throws down the stretch to come away with a 58-47 victory on Thursday night inside Rupp Arena over the Lady Titans.
Senior Kallie Sheron continued her strong post-season play leading the Lady Warriors with 18 points, while pulling down 12 rebounds in the win.
Meanwhile, Kennedy Harris — on the strength of three, three-point baskets – tallied 13 points, Regi Cundiff added 11 points, and Alexa Smiddy hit for double figures as well with 10 points.
Southwestern led by a baker’s dozen early in the second half, but Collins rallied, trimming the deficit to 45-41 about the midway point of the final quarter of play.
From that juncture, Southwestern was able to ease the lead back out to double figures by getting some key stops at the defensive end of the floor as well as hitting its free throws late, pulling away for the 58-47 win.
With the victory, Southwestern improved to 25-5 on the season, and will move on to tonight’s Elite Eight round of the tournament.
The Lady Warriors will play at 8 p.m. this evening, taking on former 48th District foe North Laurel.
The Lady Jaguars — a 66-43 winner over Henderson County in Thursday night’s final game — will bring a 31-6 record into tonight’s contest against Southwestern.