South ‘Conk’-ed at regional
Southwestern’s girls basketball team left South Central as limp as the proverbial dish rag in the second game of the Class Southwestern (Shelby) Regional on Saturday afternoon.
The Lady Spartans, now 20-4 and ranked 7th in the final Class 1A coaches poll, opened the contest with an 11-point lead and maintained the margin throughout. It was only in the final quarter that the wheels fell off the Lady Rebel Express, which got derailed, 75-48.
Southwestern went on to defeat N.E. Dubois, 48-40, in the championship game on Saturday night.
As expected in the afternoon game, the main gun for Southwestern was senior forward Brittany Conkin. She was the focal point for South’s defensive scheme and had just eight points at halftime. In the third period, however, she busted loose for eight points and finished with a game-high 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
‘Obviously, our focus coming into the game was to utilize our inside game and our depth and then try to contain (South Central’s) three-point shooters,’ Southwestern coach Jonathan Titus said. ‘Really, defensively, we set the tone early. I don’t think they were prepared for what we were throwing at them, which was 10 players right off the bat. I don’t think South Central had seen a team as deep as us this season.’
The Lady Spartans ‘ especially senior guard Sarah Goins ‘ bottled up South’s potent three-point attack of seniors Rikki Abbott and Shannon Bruner and junior Samantha Troutman.
South’s trio was held to 34 points, which was just nine points below their season average. Defensively, the 75 points given up to Southwestern was the second-most the Lady Rebels had surrendered all season. It was only the fourth time an opposing team had gone over the 70-point mark (North Harrison, Corydon Central and Springs Valley were the other three).
‘A lot of that offense was because Conkin is so good at the catch-and-turn with her shots inside,’ Titus said. ‘She missed her first couple of shots, but after that she was absolutely dynamite.’
South coach Randall Schoen said it was obvious Southwestern knew his club’s Achilles Heel.
‘You could tell they had prepared pretty well for us. They knew exactly what to take away from us. The three is an awful big part of our game, and they took that away,’ Schoen said.
‘Defensively, we had talked all week about not letting Conkin catch the ball wherever she wanted. I don’t think we did a good job of it. Biesel did a good job on her, but we needed help from other people, and they just didn’t help.
‘A player like Conkin, if you don’t get help, you can’t stop her.’
South Central’s only lead of the game came in the first minute, when senior forward Melissa Biesel sank two of her 10 points from the charity stripe after Lindsey Cochran had put in one freebie at the other end.
From there, the Lady Spartans rattled off a 16-4 run to lead 17-6.
Abbott and Troutman ended the skid with a goal and a triple, respectively, in the final three minutes. By the first stop, South trailed, 19-11.
Southwestern extended the lead to 27-14 with 5:54 left in the first half, but baskets and free throws from Biesel, Troutman and Abbott kept the Lady Rebels from being blown out of the packed, 2,500-seat gymnasium. By the time the halftime horn sounded, South had trimmed the deficit back to single-digits, 37-28.
Biesel scored inside to make it a seven-point game, but Goins and Conkin each notched baskets to push their lead back out to 11. The contest teetered around a 10-point margin until the final 1:32, when Southwestern went on another run to hold a 15-point lead heading into the final quarter.
The Lady Spartans, who had the 14th-best defensive average in the state coming into the game, held South to one field goal in the first three minutes of the fourth period in a 15-3 explosion. That put the game away.
Troutman finished with 16 points but had just three in the second half. Abbott scored 14 on 8-of-10 shooting at the foul stripe, and Biesel was 4-4 at the line and ended her career with a 10-point effort. Rounding out South’s box were Shannon Bruner with four points and Sarah Pease and Lindsay Haag with two apiece.
The Lady Rebels were held to 14 of 41 (34 percent) shooting and they attempted just 12 three-point shots, hitting four.
South hit 16 of 21 free throws and got out-rebounded, 33-25 (including 11-3 in the fourth quarter).
‘We just didn’t respond to them real well. They came out on their home floor and had a real good crowd behind them, and I don’t think we stepped up to the challenge like we needed to,’ Schoen said. ‘We let them rattle us early, and by the time we settled in, they were too good of a team to let us back into it.’
The Lady Spartans knocked down 30 of 56 field goal attempts and hit 14 of 19 free throws. The squad forced 28 turnovers by South Central and had just 17 miscues.
Goins stroked the nets for 15 points, Kristen Hamilton put in nine, and Elizabeth Burbrink had eight.
The Lady Rebels lose four seniors in Abbott, Bruner, Biesel and Haag.
‘Those girls meant a lot to this program. They won back-to-back sectionals and went to the semistate last year. They’ve played a lot of basketball at South Central, and we’ll miss them,’ Schoen said. ‘You hate to end the season on a losing note, but there’s only going to be one team at the end of the tournament that doesn’t lose.
‘Rikki and Shannon have more varsity victories than anyone who has ever come through South Central. All four of those seniors are a big part of getting this program to where it is now.’
N.E.D. 47, Jac-Cen-Del 27
In the opening game of the Southwestern Regional, defending regional finalist Northeast Dubois rolled out to a 13-2 lead in the first period and never looked back in a 20-point rout of Jac-Cen-Del.
The Lady Jeeps (16-9) led 25-7 at the half and had held the JCD (11-12) to just two field goals.
Senior forward Jenna Terwiske led the way with 13 points for the winners, followed by 12 from Leigh-Ann Kluesner, a junior guard.
The Lady Eagles were led by sophomore Janelle Hardesty’s 12 points.
S’western 48, N.E.D. 40
The host Lady Spartans led Northeast Dubois gate to wire and captured their first ever regional championship, 48-40.
Southwestern’s defense held the Lady Jeeps to just one field goal in 12 attempts in the first period, but Dubois cut the deficit to three by halftime, 16-13.
Southwestern’s lead was trimmed six with 20 seconds to go, however Sarah Goins put in a lay-up to seal the victory.
Brittany Conkin and Goins topped Southwestern with 10 points each. Teammate Elizabeth Burbrink finished with eight in the regional victory.
The Lady Jeeps were paced by Tia Wineinger’s 13 points.