The word "classic" is defined as "something serving as a standard of excellence."
This definition was right at home as the Thayer Lady Bobcats squared off with the Couch Lady Indians for the championship of the 32nd annual Thayer Lady Bobcat Winter Classic Jan. 20. These two teams have waged some classic battles for the tournament title over the course of the past few years, and this one was no exception.
"Classic" might also describe the effort that Lady Bobcat freshman Micah Stevens turned in against Couch in the final round. Already off to a fast start on the young season, Stevens kept her clutch play rolling by posting a game-high 20 points, including 16 in the critical second half of play, to lead Thayer past Couch 45-37.
The victory gave the Lady Cats their fourth straight championship in the tournament that bears their name.
The first eight minutes of play was tight, with neither side in front by more than six points.
Kandy York stepped up big-time in the first period by posting the Lady Indians' first eight points of the game. York paced Couch with 15 points on the night.
Thanks to York's burst, Couch, the number two seed, held an 8-2 lead at the 2:58 point of the first.
Top-seeded Thayer bounced back with a 6-0 run to lock the game at 8-all.
Autumn Forschler (eight points) provided a big spark for the Lady Cats in the first, posting five straight points that helped push Thayer in front by one, 11-10.
York had the final say on the first period with a jumper at the buzzer that gave Couch a 12-11 advantage after one.
The Lady Indians found the going a little rougher in the second period of play, as Thayer ratcheted up the defensive pressure a notch or two.
Samantha LaBahn (three points) logged Couch's first hoop of the second to start the frame, and from that point on, it was all Thayer.
Krysta Adams (six points) started a 10-0 burst for the Lady Bobcats with a layup at the 6:05 point, and then she recorded a pair of pilfers that led to layups by LaShanda Horton (11 points) and Stevens. Horton then capped this run-out with a triple at the 3:16 mark that extended Thayer's margin to 21-14.
Taylor Hanser (four points) finally ended the drought for Couch with the Lady Indians' second field goal of the frame with 48 ticks left on the clock.
After managing just four points in the second, Couch found itself in a 21-16 hole at intermission.
The Lady Indians came out in the third period with a burst of energy, thanks to Caitlyn Melton. Melton (seven points) drilled back-to-back treys to pull Couch to within one, 23-22, midway into the third.
Stevens then helped keep Couch at bay with a couple of hoops, and via four unanswered points to end the frame, Thayer held a 33-27 lead after three.
This turned out to be as close as the Lady Indians would get, as Stevens tossed in eight points in the fourth to help her team remain on top.
A 3-pointer from Adams at the 4:37 mark of the fourth gave Thayer its biggest lead, 10 points, of the night at 41-31, en route to a 45-37 victory for the Winter Classic title.
Chelsey Cabrales finished with two points for Thayer.
Sandy LaBahn logged three points for Couch, with Tara Combs adding two, and Lorra Wicker one.
The Lady Cats opened tourney play with a 69-34 rout of the Bakersfield Lady Lions Jan. 16, in a game in which Horton recorded her 1,000th career point for Thayer.
The Lady Bobcats led 15-6 after the first period, and then outpaced Bakersfield 29-6 in the second period to turn the contest into a runaway victory.
Horton logged 15 points, while Cabrales followed with 12, and Forschler 11. Stevens had 10, Coffel nine, Allen seven and Adams five for Thayer.
In semi-final action, Stevens scored a game-high 23 points Jan. 19 to lead the Lady Bobcats past Ellington 70-42.
The Lady Indians' run to the finals began Jan. 17 with a complete dismantling of the Dora Lady Falcons.
Couch held Dora scoreless in the first period and allowed just four points in the second, three in the third, and four more in the fourth, as the Lady Indians hammered Dora 55-11.
Hanser paced Couch with 17 points, while Sandy LaBahn logged 12. York and Redus had seven points each, while Melton and Burr had three points apiece. Murdock, Wicker and Samantha LaBahn finished with two points each.
York tallied 13 points to help Couch ease past the Mountain View/Birch Tree Liberty Lady Eagles 50-46 Jan. 19 in semi-final action.