LEXINGTON, Ky. — Dixie Heights girls basketball fell to Russell 58-44 in the 2021 KHSAA Sweet 16 tournament Thursday night at Rupp Arena.
Russell bested Dixie 32-26 in the first half, shooting 50% from the field and 42% from the 3-point line; Dixie shot 41% from the field and just 22% from 3-point line.
Red Devils senior Aubrey Hill caused problems for the Colonels, who didn't have much of an answer for her 22 points and 10-of-12 shooting from the field. The Colonels couldn't overcome the Red Devils' 14-point lead heading into the final quarter.
The Colonels were 27-2 going into Thursday's game. Coach Joel Steczynski said he knew the team faced an offensive challenge against Russell and point guard Shaelyn Steele.
“They’re very much like playing against ourselves... We just struggled a bit to protect the paint, and that gave them a big advantage on offensive rebounding," he said. "We turned the ball over a little bit more than we wanted to that first half, so when you’re playing from behind against a team like Russell, it makes it really, really difficult.”
Despite the outcome, the coach is still proud of his team’s historic season. Joined by senior guards Laci Reinhart and Sydney Lockard, a tearful Steczynski said he made “some of the best memories of my life” in the run-up to Dixie Heights’ first tournament appearance in 29 years.
Lockard said she’s confident in her young team’s ability to bounce back in 2022.
“We worked so hard to get to where we’re out. I just think us leaving will give them confidence. They’ll be back next year, for sure,” Lockard said.
Russell faces Henderson County in the quarterfinals Friday at 8 p.m. at Rupp Arena.