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A technical foul issued to Empire coach Jason Allensworth in the fourth quarter Monday night summed up how the second half went for the Lady Bulldogs.
After leading throughout the first half against Ryan, things fell apart in the second as the Cowgirls offense came to life resulting in a 57-39 defeat in the first round of the Stephens County Tournament from Outlaw Gymnasium.
With three quarters complete, the Lady Bulldogs were in striking distance only down 34-28.
But, RHS kept making clutch baskets and causing turnovers, which allowed their lead to never be smaller than eight points down the stretch.
However, the first half was a much brighter situation for Empire as RHS was left frustrated and fuming.
With 5:32 left in the first quarter, EHS held a 7-2 lead, which quickly dissolved to a two-point advantage at the end of the period at 9-7.
Despite the intense pressure from the Cowgirl defense though, the Lady Bulldogs stayed tough and managed to keep a lead going into halftime at 20-17.
After the break, the Cowgirls just needed 42 seconds to take their first lead of the second half at 21-20, which ultimately grew to a deficit Empire could not overcome on the night.
Free throw shooting also aided in the efforts of RHS as the Cowgirls finished 16-of-23 from the charity stripe, while the Lady Bulldogs went 12-for-22 from the line.
Neither team could find a solid rhythm from behind the arc as the teams finished a combined 2-of-9 on the evening from three-point range.
Empire (11-6) was led in scoring by Melaina Yearby with 13 points to go with seven rebounds and seven steals on the night.
Ashlie Atkinson added 11 points, while Alyssa George put in six points.
Sherre Dewey put in four points, with Kaelyn Allensworth scoring three points.
Ryan (9-6) was paced by Roshanda Lewis who led all scorers with 17 points on the night.
Kourtni Gore scored 11 points, with Paige Bolin Victoria Bessent each adding nine points.
Ryan advances to Thursday night’s championship semifinal game against either Marlow or Bray-Doyle at 7:40 p.m. while Empire will face the loser of the same contest on Friday night at 7:40 p.m.