LEXINGTON — A combination of hitting the open shot, and relentless defensive pressure led to Sacred Heart’s easy 64-32 win over 14th Region champion Knott Central during first-round action of Wednesday’s 2021 Mingua Beef Jerky Girls’ Sweet Sixteen.

Reagan Bender turned in a 21-point scoring effort while finishing with three rebounds and five assists for the Valkyries while Josie Gilpin recorded a triple-double, scoring 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting while finishing with 10 steals, 10 rebounds, and five assists.

Sacred Heart shot 25-of-58 from the floor while outrebounding the Lady Patriots, 39-20, and forcing them into 20 turnovers, leading to 30 Valkryie points. Sacred Heart shared the ball throughout the game, and finished with 19 assists. Knott Central, who was led by Keara Mullins’ nine points, finished the contest hitting 10-of-34 shot attempts.

Bender’s eight-point first quarter paved the way for the Valkyries to take a 19-12 advantage by the end of the first quarter. Sacred Heart connected on a red-hot 8-of-12 shooting effort from the floor while forcing Knott Central into six turnovers and a 5-of-11 shooting effort from the floor.

The Valkyries continued to dominate in the second quarter and put away any hopes of a Lady Patriot win. Sacred Heart closed the period out with a 16-0 run while forcing Knott Central into 10 turnovers during the period to take a 41-16 cushion into the locker room at halftime.

The Lady Patriots were held scoreless during the final six minutes of the first half and misfired on 6-of-17 shot attempts. They turned the ball over 16 times (Sacred Heart’s Josie Gilpin recorded seven steals during the first 16 minutes) and were outrebounded, 14-8. Sacred Heart shot 16-of-26 from the floor with Bender’s 13 points leading the way.

2021 Mingua Beef Jerky Girls Sweet Sixteen

At Rupp Arena

Sacred Heart, Knott Central

Sacred Heart 19 22 13 10 64

Knott Central 12  4 14   2 32

Sacred Heart (64) — Ralston 6, Bender 21, Gilpin 13, Wolff 8, Kaufman 3, Russell 4, Pelayo 2, Schafer 3, Howe 2, Slaughter 2.

Knott Central (32) — Noble 3, Gayheart 5, Mullins 9, Maggard 7, Mason 6, Hayes 2.

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