Grady’s title bid halted by Lady Demons

Grady sophomore Stephanie Bailey puts up a shot during Friday’s Class 1A girls state championship game against Des Moines at The Pit. Photo by Rick White

By Eric Butler

ALBUQUERQUE — Making their first appearance in the state finals since 1987, the Grady Lady Bronchos made repeated comeback attempts Friday night against the favored Des Moines Lady Demons before finally falling 51-36 at The Pit.

Des Moines (29-1), which beat Grady for the fourth time this season, won its third consecutive Class 1A state title by continually holding back the Lady Bronchos (26-6). The Lady Demons broke it open late by scoring the game’s final 12 points.

Jennifer Blackburn led the Bronchos with nine points and 10 rebounds, while Aerial Verble chipped in with eight. Des Moines, whose roster featured three 6-footers, was paced by Annie Kennedy’s 14 points.

The Lady Demons opened a 20-11 lead late in the second quarter by reeling off eight consecutive points. But Grady chipped away until a Stephanie Bailey basket with one minute remaining in the third quarter cut the lead to 27-24.

As was the case all night, Des Moines answered immediately when Grady came within a field goal of tying. Chasity Russell’s putback gave the Lady Demons a 29-24 lead through three periods.

Des Moines extended the its margin to 10 points with a 6-2 run early in the fourth period. The Lady Bronchos regrouped with seven consecutive points, capped by two Blackburn free throws with 2:30 left to make it 39-36.

But that was the last run in their tank, and a hook shot by Jamie Atwater with 2:03 left started the Lady Demons’ game-ending run.

Des Moines 51, Grady 36
Des Moines (29-1) —
Annie Kennedy 5 3-4 14, Jamie Atwater 3 4-5 10, Chasity Russell 3 2-2 9, Emily Kennedy 1 5-6 7, Jodie Kibbe 2 3-5 7, Hanna Bray 1 2-24. Totals 15 19-24 51.
Grady (26-6) — Jennifer Blackburn 1-6 6-10 9, Aerial Verble 4 0-1 8, Taris Pond 1 3-5 5, Brittany Bailey 2 0-0 4, Stephanie Bailey 2 0-0 4, Jessalyn Murray 2-3 0-0 4, Heather Blackburn 1 0-0 2. Totals 13 9-16 36.
Des Moines 7 13 9 22 — 51
Grady 7 6 11 12 — 36
3-pointers — Des Moines, A. Kennedy, Russell. Grady, J. Blackburn. Rebounds — Des Moines 55 (A. Kennedy 18), Grady 37 (J. Blackburn 10). Assists — Des Moines 11 (A. Kennedy 5), Grady 6 (B. Bailey, Verble 2). Fouls — Des Moines 15, Grady 22. Fouled out — B. Bailey, S. Bailey.