Lady Rebs’ ride cut short by NV
Purnell’s “Old Folks” country sausage and North Vermillion’s girls basketball team have one thing in common: they’re goooooooooooood.
The undefeated and No. 1-ranked Lady Falcons scored their 50th consecutive victory Saturday by dismantling South Central late in the Southridge 1A Semistate, 70-49. They advanced to this weekend’s state championship game against Tri-Central (22-4) at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
North Vermillion won the state title last season over Hebron, 45-42.
Senior power forward Kayla Hinkle scored a season-high 29 points and had 14 rebounds while junior guard Allison Hughes tickled the nets for 20 as Vermillion outscored South 17-6 in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
The Lady Rebels (22-7), experiencing their only loss to a Class 1A team this season, trailed by as many as 10 in the first half, but cut it to one, 35-34, to start the third quarter on an old-fashioned three by sophomore Samantha Troutman and a deuce by Rachel Dixon.
The Falcons called time-out, regrouped, and quickly went on an 11-2 run to go up by 10. They held the advantage heading into the final eight minutes of action, 53-43.
Troutman buried a jumper four ticks into the fourth and junior guard Rikki Abbott connected from way downtown with 4:17 left, but those were the only two field goals the Lady Rebs would get in the quarter.
Along the way, North Vermillion used a mix of mid-range jumpers from Hughes and buckets inside from Hinkle to pull away to a 69-48 lead with 1:44 left.
“We might have got rattled a little bit, and then we just folded,” South head coach Randall Schoen said. “We had players not wanting to shoot the ball at that point. I thought we were really hesitant to take the shot when we needed to and wound up forcing something bad. I was wanting to go zone against them, but at the time we were going to do it, we were already 12 down. They’d be content to just sit back then.”
Dixon hit one free throw with 45 ticks remaining and then fouled Kyle Heidbrider for her fifth with :24 left.
Heidbrider sank one free throw for her only point as Dixon, who scored 26 on the day, retreated to the sidelines in tears.
“It all came down to rebounding. That was it,” Schoen said. “And more than that, it was second-chance points. I wasn’t overly impressed with the way (North Vermillion) shot, but when you rebound like that, it will keep you in any ball game.
“They’d just grab the rebound and put it back in. They really knew how to crash the boards, especially Hinkle. She just had a nose for the ball. When shots went up, she’d go to the other side of the rim, not because there was a spot there. She knew that’s where the ball would end up. She’s a heck of a player.”
The lightning-fast Dixon scored 14 of her team’s 17 points in the first quarter and had outscored Vermillion by herself at the 3:28 mark, 14-10.
Hughes and Hinkle paired up for a 9-0 run, which was snapped by a three-ball by Troutman, a sophomore who finished with 15 points. Jennifer Puckett scored the last basket for the Lady Falcons to give her club a 21-17 lead at the first stop.
The winners continued their streak to the 6:06 mark, where Hinkle dropped home an old-time three.
Dixon countered with a triple and a goal inside, and freshman Sarah Pease scored a pair in the paint to cut the lead to three, 27-24.
North Vermillion led at halftime, 35-29, with Dixon accounting for 22 of South’s points. A strong defensive effort by North’s Annie Morgan held Dixon to just four in the second half.
“(Dixon) wasn’t feeling good, but she’s the type of player that she’ll suck it up and play through it. They just did a great job of adjusting to her, and we weren’t able to step up and knock the shots down when we needed to,” Schoen said.
South shot 20 of 59 (33 percent) for the game and was a dismal 6 of 31 (19 percent) beyond the three-point arc. During the previous week’s regional run, the Lady Rebels were 34 percent on long range.
After Dixon and Troutman, Abbott scored three, Pease and Melissa Biesel each had two, and Shannon Bruner scored one.
South was thrashed on the boards, 43-28, but committed only 12 turnovers. North Vermillion was forced into 16 miscues, thanks to South’s almost-constant full-court press.
The Lady Falcons were 29 of 55 on field goals, with most of the shots coming from point-blank range. They hit four three-pointers.
Puckett, Rachel West and Lindsay Varner all scored six. Morgan scored two points.
Defending Southern Athletic Conference champion South Central loses a quartet of seniors: Dixon, the school’s all-time leading scorer at 2,059 points, Ashley Koons, Abbie Knear and Kim Wheeler.
Dixon’s point total this season (757) ranks 10th all-time for a season.
“You never replace a player like Rachel and the others, but I really feel good about what we have coming back. Pease came onto the floor in a semistate and played real strong.
“The most important spot on the floor is the point guard, and Sarah’s not quite as quick or the scorer that Rachel is, but she showed a lot of poise up there. We’re expecting her to step up and do the job.
“Biesel played strong for us off the bench; Lindsey Haag didn’t play but about three minutes but grabbed a bunch of rebounds, and then of course you have Troutman, Abbott and Bruner, too,” Schoen said.
“We’ve got a real good corps coming back. This summer will be even more important for us to readjust to new roles that we’ll have.”