So far, she's gotten further than last year.
In a game that was tough offensively for both teams, Duduit applied her senior leadership expertly on Thursday as the Lady Panthers advanced to a Division IV district final with a 42-28 win against Corning Miller. Clay will play top-seeded Glouster Trimble next week in the team's first district final since 1981.
“It feels great,” said Duduit. “Ever since I was a freshman, I've wanted to go far in tournaments. With the team we have this year, everyone's willing to do what it takes.”
The Lady Panthers hounded the Lady Falcons all game, keeping Miller to just 11 field goals. Turnovers were also in abundance as the team kept forcing Miller into bad shots and steals. Duduit's presence was felt defensively, as she and Alyx Jackson combined for five of Clay's six first-half steals. She also pulled down seven of her 11 rebounds after two periods. Duduit finished with 15 points and Jackson had two layups off steals to contribute nine points and two steals.
“We played a 2-3 zone to stuff everything back inside,” said Clay coach Kelly White. “We made them shoot. They made a few, but we did what we accomplished to do, which was stop their big girl (Ashley Heavener).”
Slowing the pace of the game down, Clay waited to get good shots down low but had trouble converting. Luckily, Miller kept sending the Lady Panthers to the free-throw line. Clay scored seven of its nine fourth-quarter points at the foul line to stave off a late Lady Falcon run.
Though the defense was staunch throughout the game, it was tough sledding offensively early on for the Lady Panthers, who only managed six field goals and 20 points by halftime. Duduit was having trouble finding open looks as the Lady Falcons double-, and sometimes triple-teamed the senior guard.
Duduit took advantage of the situation, finding Dani Summers and Mallory White for scores as Clay built an 11-point lead after one quarter.
“Katie's a great passer and if you let her, she'll find the open man.” White said.
Duduit did manage a 3-pointer late in the second quarter that put Clay up nine, but eight of the Lady Panthers' points in the first half came at the free-throw line.
The defensive stops continued as the Lady Panthers kept Miller to four points in the second quarter as the Lady Panthers built a 10-point lead.
Kelsi Brown was the only Lady Falcon to score, the last basket coming at 4:30 left in the half. Brown led Miller with nine points.
Clay will have a week off before facing the Lady Tomcats for a berth in the regional tournament. Duduit said as the team progresses, the challenges will get tougher, but is confident the squad can handle it together.
“We have the bench, we have the heart,” Duduit said. “I think if we stay together, anything is possible.”
JEFF TAEPKE can be reached at (740) 353-3101 ext. 203
Miller 6 4 9 9 - 28
Clay 11 9 13 9 - 42
Miller - Heavener 1 3 5, Brown 4 0 9, Hoops 1 0 2, Murphy 1 0 3, Pierce 1 0 3, Bray 2 0 4, Reynolds 1 0 2. Totals 11 3 28.
Clay - Duduit 3 7 14, Speas 1 2 4, Donini 0 1 1, Jackson 4 1 9, Weeks 1 0 2, White 1 1 3, Adams 0 2 2, Summers 3 0 6, Burchett 0 1 1. Totals 13 15 42.
3-pointers - Miller 3 (Brown, Murphy, Pierce) Clay 1 (Duduit)
Record - Clay 18-4.