Tecumseh rallies past Lady Eagles
Wade Bell, Sports Writer
The Springs Valley girls’ regional was loaded with talent with four top-10 teams — Lanesville, Tecumseh, Trinity Lutheran and Loogootee — competing for a championship. Only one would survive Saturday to go on to the Jasper semi-state.
The Lanesville Lady Eagles met up with Tecumseh in the opening game, and it was a battle royale all of the way to the final horn. For the Lady Eagles, however, it would be the end of their season as the Lady Braves came away with a three-point win.
“I thought we had them on the ropes and rattled them pretty good, but they were a good, veteran club that, when it got into crunch time, they stepped up,” said Lanesville coach Angie Hinton. “They either got the big rebound or the big bucket. They had kids that made threes. We knew we were going to give up a little, but you hope you can settle down and come back and mix in and keep matching them on buckets.”
Lanesville came out on fire in the first quarter, and senior Gracie Adams had the hottest hands, scoring every time she touched the ball. The lead changed hands three times in the opening two minutes, then Adams took over scoring nine straight points. Ava Kerr struck pay-dirt from downtown, and the Lady Eagles had an 18-4 lead at the end of the first eight minutes.
“They’re very physical, and we tried to work on that all week with things that we were doing,” Hinton said. “We tried to set up the practices where there were a lot of mismatches, and you’re going three against four, three against five, trying to be aggressive and having to cover a lot of areas.”
Tecumseh regrouped during the break between quarters then lit the nets up with their own run, scoring 12 straight points to close the gap to two.
Emma Campbell finally got a three to go down, but Kaybree Oxley got two of those back in the paint.
Lanesville scored the next six. Oxley finally stopped that run with a deuce, but Linzie Wernert countered for the Lady Eagles. With less than three minutes to go in the half, Morgan Wilson and Penelope Lemen hammered in Lady Braves three-balls. Adams scored before the end of the half, and Lanesville had a 32-26 edge at the break.
“We had some silly turnovers again that kind of gave them momentum back,” Hinton said. “With that, they’re scoring some buckets. We needed some more people besides Linzie and Gracie to want to score and make some buckets. We had some kids that wanted to score but just had some kids that could not make some shots. That was the difference.”
The two teams again traded paint through the first four minutes of the third quarter, but Tecumseh was putting more pressure on Adams after she scored 20 points in the first half. Gracee Sullivan scored five for the Lady Braves to close the gap to three, 39-36, forcing the Lady Eagles to call timeout. Wernert hit a short jumper to push Lanesville’s lead back to five. Tecumseh countered, however, with an 8-2 run to go up by one, 44-43.
Campbell drilled her second three of the game, and Lanesville was back in front, 46-44, with one quarter to go.
“They had more people on their floor that either started or came off the bench that made some big key buckets for them,” Hinton said. “When we needed that to happen for us, we got it a couple of times but we didn’t get it enough times.”
Adams, who had just four points in the third quarter, drew her fourth foul at the start of the fourth. Karsyn Flowers tied the game at 46 with two freebies. Scoring went back and forth with two more ties, at 48 and 50. Morgan Sonner cashed in two free throws for the Lady Eagles, but Flowers drilled a three to put the Lady Braves in front once again.
Jenna Donohoo scored in the paint for a three-point Tecumseh edge. With 2:16 to go, Adams drew her fifth foul, sending her to the bench, and Lanesville called timeout. When play resumed, Donohoo sank one of two from the stripe for a 58-54 Tecumseh lead. The two teams traded more paint with the Lady Braves holding the advantage. In the end, the clock went to Tecumseh’s favor, the Lady Braves sinking enough free throws for the 63-60 win.
“Once we got started pretty good, I thought we did a pretty good job,” Hinton said. “Maybe we got a little tired and got a little bit too spread out with the defense. We wanted to pressure them and cover our areas, but they’re pretty darn rough. Those kids have been playing together, and they’re very strong and physical. They’re big. They’ve got kids that can shoot from the outside, and they’ve got kids that can score inside. Then, they’re very patient in what they do.”
“Turnovers again at opportune times has just been a situation all year that we’ve dealt with, but I thought we did come back better,” she said. “We fought back harder after we did turn the ball over and tried to continue to make some things happen. I asked them to dig deep, and they did dig deep. They got as aggressive as they could. They just had more numbers of people inside bigger than ours. Sometimes that just happens.”
Adams led the Lady Eagles with 26 points, held to just six in the second half, and Wernert had 19 for the day. Lanesville got off 61 shots, hitting 25 (41%), but hit just 5 of 12 free-throw attempts. The Lady Eagles had eight turnovers.
“She is our go-to person,” Hinton said of Adams, a senior. “That’s the person we’re trying to go to. I thought she played as tough as I’ve seen her play in a big ballgame. She really wanted to win. I thought we really battled on the boards, especially in the first half. I thought Morgan (Sonner) got tougher as she played. It was pretty physical in there.”
“My seniors, I’m really going to miss them,” Hinton said. “Danni (Haire) struggled, and we just couldn’t afford to play kids on emotion. We’re trying to win a ballgame. Liz (Turner) gave us a lot of good defense and did some really good things, but she’s not a great shooter so that hurts us. Sometimes we just had kids shooting the ball, and we really needed to just keep feeding the ball to Gracie and Linzie. You don’t always want to put that on those two kids but, when they’re playing like they’re playing, you’ve got to give them the ball.”
Flowers led Tecumseh with 19, and Oxley followed with 14. Donohoo added 13 for the Lady Braves, who connected on 20 of 45 field goals (44%) and 14 of 20 free throws. Tecumseh had 21 turnovers.
Lanesville finished its season with a record of 21-4, the four losses coming to ranked teams.
“Two losses came to Tecumseh, one to Trinity Lutheran and one to Bedford,” said the Lanesville coach. “They’re great ball clubs. I feel like we made a lot of progress through the year, especially with the situation with COVID and trying to bring the young kids along. We felt like coming into this year that our freshmen would really add to us and help. It just took a lot longer because of the unknown every day when you go in. Are you going to get quarantined? Who’s going to be there? How many kids do you have? You’ve got your seniors and you’re wanting them to experience their senior year.”
“We like the direction of the program,” said Hinton. “We’ve won three sectionals in a row, and those kids made history with the school doing that, things they’ve never done before. They started a tradition, and we’ve just got to learn how to get over the hump and get that win at this level. It’s mental and physical both, but they have the ability to do it. We fought a little harder each year, so we’ll just continue to do that.”
Tecumseh fell in the regional title game to defending state champion Loogootee, 55-38.
Lanesville 18 14 14 14 – 60
Tecumseh 4 22 18 19 – 63
Lanesville (21-4) – Adams 26, Wernert 19, Campbell 6, Kerr 5, Sonner 4.
Tecumseh (15-6) – Flower 19, Oxley 14, Donohoo 13, Wilson 8, Sullivan 5, Lemen 4.
3-point goals – Lanesville 4 (Adams 2, Campbell 2); Tecumseh 7 (Flowers 3, Wilson 2, Lemen 1, Sullivan 1).