April 9th, 2021

Valkyries Advance to Semifinals in State Tournament


Ed Peak

Staff Writer

Valkyries Advance to Semifinals in State Tournament
photo by Ed Peak

Triniti Ralston didn't play like a sophomore Friday. She played with poise, used her quickness and pressure defense to help lead Sacred Heart to a 66-54 win over Fourth Region champion Bowling Green, Friday in the Mingua Beef Jerky Girls State Tournament at Rupp Arena.


This wasn't as easy as Wednesday's victory over Knott County Central but the Valkyries (23-7) got itself together in the second half to pull away. SHA will play in the semifinals for the fifth time and fourth under coach Donna Moir who has 698 wins in her 31 year coaching career. The Valkyries will play Anderson County in the semifinals, Saturday at 11 a.m.


"This group has come a long way, said Moir. "It was a tough effort too for both. Bowling Green gave us everything we could handle. I thought my team responded really well." 


Ralston led the Seventh Region champions with 26 points was five of eight shots from the field and 16 of 20 from the free throw line. It was the fourth most made and attempted foul shots in the tourneys history.


"It was very physical," said Ralston. "I know I'm always on the floor in each game we play. My mentality was to let everything slide and keep playing with the team. Keep doing things."


Sacred Heart didn’t let its foul trouble discourage them from continuing its defensive pressure, especially in the second half. The Purples had two players foul out.


SHA got big games off the bench from freshman Angelina Pelayo and junior Olivia Kaufman with eight points each. At one time the Valkyries had four freshman on the floor. Emi-Lee Howe and Claire Russell also contributed.


Junior Josie Gilvin scored six points but was active on the Valkyries press helping force the Purples into 29 mistakes. Gilvin was three of 15 shooting but had three assist, two blocks and seven steals.


In two games SHA has forced 54 turnovers, 29 against the Purples, and scored 67 points off those.


"Their pressure was a little too much," said Bowling Green coach Calvin Head. "We just turned the ball over a little too much."


A break during the end of the season has helped Sacred Heart.


"It doesn't matter who we have out there or what age group they are," said Moir. "We had about two and half weeks (without a game at the end of the regular season) and we went back to the basics and really worked on certain situations. The time that we had really helped us for this run in the state tournament."


Bowling Green (19-11) was led by sophomore Tanaka Bailey with 15 points but had nine turnovers. Junior 5-foot-11 center Lynkaylah James added 14 points and 14 rebounds. James was Bowling Green's selection to the All-Tournament team. 

"We were trying to front her. Get weak side help. I thought Alex (Wolff) stepped up big time and Angelina came in and gave us some good points and stepped up big time," said Moir.


Wolff's defense was a key before fouling out. "I think we were every where. We played together, playing for each other."

SHA used a 25-9 run in the third quarter and early in the fourth to lead 57-41 which included an 8-0 run. Ralston had eight points in the spurt.


"We played with poise. Played our game the second half," said Moir. "We tried to get Triniti the ball as she wasn't handling the ball too much in that second quarter. We tried to get her more touches."


It looked early like Sacred Heart would have it easy leading 24-12. But foul trouble and turnovers started to pile up. Even though Bowling Green turned the ball over 15 time the Purples stayed within SHA and led 28-27 with 22 seconds in the second quarter. But Ralston’s layup returned the lead to SHA at the half.


The Purples took 18 less shots from the field but made 10 and 14 free throws.


“We needed to settle down and keep attacking the basket," said Moir.


Bowling Green once 8-10 this season with injuries turned it around to win the Fourth Region.

"I thought our kids really battled. I thought they could have folded but we showed a lot of resilience," said Head. "We've been a resilient bunch of girls all year. We just kept fighting back." 


Now Sacred Heart will face a familiar foe, No. 1 Anderson County a team the Valkyries lost 69-68 when on February 20th. A banked three point basket from about 30 feet provided the win with 4.2 seconds. 


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