Kelly hung tough with the defending Class 2 state champions and current No. 1 ranked team in Class 3 in the first half, but the Panthers exploded in the second half outscoring the Lady Hawks 38-16.
The Lady Hawks came out of the gates strong scoring the first five points of the first quarter. Metro responded with a 10-1 run and led 10-6 with three minutes left in the first. Kelly had problems with the pressure defense of the Panthers and committed eight turnovers in the quarter.
Both squads had some foul issues early on in the game. Kelly committed nine fouls in the first quarter and the Panthers leading scorer, Brittany Dodson, spent much of the first half on the bench saddled with three fouls. Metro led 15-9 after one quarter of action.
Ebony Davis, a 5-foot-11 sophomore, picked up the scoring slack for the Panthers in the first half. Davis had 11 points in the first half and held Kelly's leading scorer, Debra Hall, scoreless in the half.
"Metro has some very long and athletic girls," said Kelly head coach Rod McQuerter. "We struggled with their length and they altered a lot of our shots."
The Panthers built their biggest lead of the half, 30-19, on a 7-0 run which at 1:45 of the second quarter. Kelly ended the quarter on a 6-1 run and trailed 31-25 heading into halftime.
Junior Sarah Ruff worked hard inside for Kelly and ended the first half with eight points. Senior Nikki Weiny also chipped in eight points going 6-for-10 from the foul line and sophomore Katee Moore drilled two big 3-pointers to lead the Lady Hawks.
Kelly and Metro both had double-digit fouls in the first half, which allowed the teams numerous opportunities at the charity stripe. The Lady Hawks were 9-for-17, while the Panthers struggled going 4-for-13.
Metro head coach Gary Glasscock thought he was seeing a mirror image of his club on defense.
"They're sound fundamentally," said Glasscock. "They play get-in-your face defense. They basically play they way we like to play."
The second half belonged to the Panthers. Metro started the third quarter on a 8-0 run and led 39-25 with 4:35 to play in the quarter. With two minutes to play in the third, Metro had increased the run to 16-2 and led 47-25.
Kelly ran into more problems as senior point guard Brittany Ponder picked up her fourth foul late in the third quarter. With Ponder out of the lineup, Metro increased their full-court pressure and started to force turnovers which led to easy transition baskets.
Senior guard LaChelle Livingston of Metro took over in the third quarter. Livingston scored 16 points in the quarter and came up with four steals for the Panthers. Kelly had no defensive answers for Livingston as she drove past and around any Lady Hawk attempting to defend.
"That No. 11 (Livingston)," said McQuerter, "she is a special player. She is quick and has great hands."
The Lady Hawks were outscored 23-8 in the third and trailed 54-33 heading into the final quarter.
Burdened with foul issues all game, Dodson showed those in attendance in the fourth quarter, why she is the leading scorer on Metro. Dodson scored all of her nine points in the fourth and a running clock consumed much of the quarter.
"They are a great team," said McQuerter. "They have a great coach and a winning program. We had problems with their full-court pressure and they took advantage with some transition baskets."
Metro (26-4) held the Lady Hawks to only three field goals in the second half. The Panthers forced 18 turnovers in the contest and outrebounded Kelly 25-17, including 9-6 on the offensive glass.
Livingston led Metro with 22 points, six steals and dished out five assists. Davis had 13 points with seven rebounds and led the Panthers with four blocks.
Weiny led Kelly with 12 points and Ruff ended with 10 points, four rebounds and two steals. Hall ended her night with only two points for the Lady Hawks.
"We ran into a great team tonight," said McQuerter. "Our girls have nothing to hold their heads down about. They always played hard and with a positive attitude. I was blessed with a super group of seniors and they are great kids."
Metro 69, Kelly 41
METRO (69) - LaChelle Livingston 22, Ebony Davis 13, Brittany Dodson 9, Dekeisha Mathis 9, Jasmine Cooper 8, Nakia Robinson 5, Samantha Gilkey 3. FG 25. FT 16-29. F 24. (3-pointers: Gilkey 1. Fouled out: none).
KELLY (41) - Nikki Weiny 12, Sarah Ruff 10, Katee Moore 6, Kayla Cissell 4, Brittany Ponder 4, Debra Hall 2, Londyn Backfisch 2, Lauren Gean 1. FG 9. FT 17-34. F 23. (3-pointers: Moore 2. Fouled out: Ruff).