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SC rallies for regional title, 49-46

SC rallies for regional title, 49-46
SC rallies for regional title, 49-46
South senior Sarah Pease picks the pocket of Allison Matheis (20) of Northeast Dubois in the fourth quarter of the regional championship game. (Photos by Alan Stewart)

If anyone ever doubted South Central’s team concept, they got a heavy dose of reality in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s championship game of the Class 1A Southwestern (Shelby) Regional.
After trailing by eight with 1:45 left in the third period, the Lady Rebels clawed to within two points of Northeast Dubois, 36-34, to start the final period.
But before the first bead of sweat could be broke, South’s leading scorer, sophomore Brittany Schoen, was pegged with her fourth foul with 7:44 left in the game and was forced to the sidelines.
‘I was thinking that we just needed to keep the game close long enough to get her back in,’ South coach Randall Schoen said. ‘We’d come back already and didn’t need to dig any bigger of a hole.’
Junior forward Kaela Orwick scored inside to briefly tie the affair and Allison Matheis hit a deuce to put Dubois back up by two.
What happened next will undoubtedly live in Elizabeth-ian lore for many years to come.
South junior guard Karen Deaton sank a free throw and ‘ after senior Sarah Pease forced a Lady Jeep turnover ‘ hit a jumper to take a 39-38 lead. Pease had a steal and lay-in to extend the margin to three. Dubois’ Tia Wineinger slowed the bleeding with a single free throw, but Deaton countered with the biggest three-pointer she could imagine.
‘She let it go and I was saying, ‘No!’, just before it went in. It went through the net and one of the referees just looked at me and smiled as he went by,’ Schoen said. ‘That was a huge shot and gave us the energy we needed.
‘The other girls really responded and picked it up, too.’
The bomb put South Central up, 44-39, and thoroughly established momentum in favor of the Lady Rebels.
With added vigor to an already stifling defense, South Central held Northeast Dubois to just two field goals over the final 3:19 of the game and posted a 49-46 victory for their second regional championship in four years.
Very few tears were shed for the Lady Jeeps’ second-half collapse: in the first game of last year’s Southwestern Regional, South led by nine heading into the fourth quarter when Northeast Dubois rallied to win, 48-43, and eventually finish as state runner-up.
The Lady Rebels (22-5), who have not lost to a Class 1A team all season, advance to Saturday’s Class 1A Southport Semi-state and face No. 5-ranked Attica (23-2).
‘It hasn’t sunk in,’ Deaton said of winning her first regional. ‘To be honest, winning sectional didn’t sink in until we got up here and this probably won’t sink in until next week.’
Of her big three, the junior transfer from Austin said she didn’t remember much about ‘The Shot;’ only that it fell through: ‘So much happened so quickly. I mean, I’m happy it went in. So many other teams focus on Brittany because of what she can do offensively and defensively and we showed that we have other people who can step up, too. We work as a team and it could have been someone else who hit that shot. No one can key on just her and we showed that while she was out.’
Deaton and Schoen finished with 12 points apiece to pace their club and Orwick scored 11. Pease and Jenna Kingsley each notched five points while Sarah Yelch came off the bench for four points, all on a pair of buckets in the second quarter.
In all, there were 10 lead changes and two ties in the hard-fought tussle.
Schoen and Orwick helped give their team a 7-3 lead in the early going before Dubois’ Wineinger, Matheis and Amanda Jones produced a 10-2 spurt for a 13-9 advantage. Schoen hit a free throw to set the score at 13-10 after one period of action.
The second quarter was a see-saw affair with four lead changes. A 9-2 run by Dubois (18-7) gave the club a 24-18 lead. Schoen had a steal and lay-in inside of a minute to play to put the halftime score at 24-20 in favor of the Lady Jeeps.
To that point, South Central had been thrashed on the boards, 29-9.
‘That was just terrible on our part and was definitely something we talked about at halftime,’ Schoen said.
Whatever the coach articulated to his girls worked: In the second half, South won the rebounding battle, 16-13.
With the boards nearly even, Northeast Dubois relied on the hot shooting of Matheis and Abbie Friedman to build a 36-28 lead with 1:45 left in the third quarter.
Pease kicked off a 6-0 run to the horn, with a basket coming from Orwick and a buzzer-beater by Schoen on a super pass from Candace Cartwright.
‘Candace played well, Pease came on strong with her defense late in the game and stole the ball a few times, Jenna hit a big three in the third quarter and that was just the things we needed out of them,’ Schoen said. ‘People look at our stats and think that if you stop Brittany you stop our whole team, but we showed tonight that’s not the case.’
South Central was 19 of 47 from the field and hit three of 17 three-point tries. The Lady Rebels were 8-of-16 on free throws and committed only 10 turnovers. Dubois, which still won the rebounding war by a comfortable margin, 42-25, was 20 of 51 on field goals, 1-of-7 on threes and went 5-of-11 on charity tosses. The Lady Jeeps committed 16 turnovers.
Three players reached double figures in scoring for Dubois: Matheis notched 16, Wineinger had 12 and Friedman added 10.
S.C. 56, Oldenburg Academy 40
Despite the presence of three opposing six-footers, South Central out-rebounded Oldenburg Academy, 32-28, and forced a whopping 35 turnovers in the first semi-final game of the Southwestern Regional.
Schoen scored 25 points and Deaton added eight as the Lady Rebels doubled an eight-point lead at halftime into a 16-point advantage entering the final eight minutes of play.
‘That was probably one of our worst games of the season overall,’ Randall Schoen said. ‘We committed way too many unforced turnovers and tried to do too many things. I know a lot of that had to do with their height advantage, but that didn’t make me feel any better. I told the girls at halftime that as soon as we started taking care of the ball, we’d be okay.’
After falling behind, 4-0, South surged ahead thanks to the three-point prowess of Schoen and Deaton. Cartwright scored a deuce before the Lady Twisters capped the quarter scoring with a bucket inside by junior Dominika Roberts, 11-8.
Oldenburg (11-10) rallied to tie the game early in the second, but a 10-0 run put South up 24-14 with 4:14 left in the half. The Twisters failed to convert a field goal over the remainder of the period as South Central held a 28-20 lead at the intermission.
South outscored its opponent 14-6 in the third period, then played even basketball the rest of the way.
The Lady Rebels got six points from Orwick, five each from Kingsley, Cartwright and Yelch and two by Pease.
Roberts paced Oldenburg with 20 points.
South Central went 18 of 48 from the floor, 7-21 on threes and 13-20 at the line. Oldenburg shot 13 of 38, failed to convert a triple on three attempts and sank 7-of-13 at the stripe. There were a slew of turnovers in the game, with South coughing up the ball 25 times to Oldenburg’s 35.