4th-quarter surge lifts top-ranked Lady Eagles
By Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]
Since 2022 began, it has been clear that the Lanesville Lady Eagles haven’t missed a beat entering the new year.
As has been the case the previous three years, the top-ranked Lady Eagles began the new year by dominating the remainder of their rivals in the Southern Athletic Conference. The final ballgames in conference play saw the Lady Eagles demolish both South Central and Crothersville by a combined score of 163-17.
With their fourth straight SAC title under wraps, the Lady Eagles began to prepare to defend their sectional crown once again as the regular season winds down. Their final five games begin a stretch of contests against teams that are, at worst, solid. The first of these contests comes against Trinity Lutheran in a potential post-season preview.
Traveling to Seymour to confront the Class 1A No. 8 Lady Cougars last Tuesday night, the two sides spent much of the game on relatively equal ground. It was a fourth-quarter surge that saw the Lady Eagles outscore their hosts 23-10 to lift them to their 14th consecutive victory as they handled the Lady Cougars 70-47.
That final score belied how the contest started, as the Lady Eagles stumbled out of the gate. The Lady Cougars capitalized as they scored the game’s first seven points, but triples from freshman guard Hylton Brumley began and concluded a 14-3 run. Those long balls sandwiched a three and freebie from freshman guard Hadley Crosier and two buckets from junior center Morgan Sonner to give the Lady Eagles an early 14-10 edge.
“I think a little bit of it was the youth of our guards; we put a lot on them because we expect a lot of them. They haven’t been in all those types of situations,” Lady Eagles skipper Angie Hinton said of her team’s slow start. “They’ve been in a few. Going back to the beginning of the season when we played a good Corydon team and couldn’t handle it. Coming into this environment, they knew it was a big game against a possible regional opponent.”
The Lady Cougars closed the gap slightly as they scored five of the first seven points of the second quarter. With a slim 16-15 edge, the Lady Eagles soared ahead with a 13-6 run as they outscored the Lady Cougars 15-11 in the period. Those points came courtesy of seven points from senior wing Kennedy Gordon, four points from junior forward Linzie Wernert and buckets from Crosier and senior guard Emma Campbell, allowing them to soar to the locker room with a 29-21 advantage.
“I think that sometimes we’re just tentative, wanting to do so well that you start overthinking things instead of just playing basketball,” Hinton said. “We play 3-on-3 every day, so they knew when someone is pressuring you, but it was like nobody wanted to make a mistake, then you make a mistake because you don’t want to make a mistake.”
“I think we came out a bit shocked (despite knowing) that it was a big game. Playing all the teams we’ve played and beating them by so much, we weren’t nervous, but we didn’t know what to expect coming in playing like a good team,” Wernert said. “We came out and had some turnovers but really picked it up and got it together for the rest of the game.”
Despite a pair of turnovers to open the second half, the Lady Eagles began the third quarter on a 10-3 run. The entire period was a mostly tight contest which the visitors barely won 18-16. That scoring battle took place primarily between Wernert and Bailey Tabeling as the former scored 11 in the period and Tabeling notched 10, with six coming off long balls. Sonner added a pair of buckets, while Crosier and Liza Froedge exchanged three-point plays, the latter doing so twice in the period to cut the Lady Cougars’ deficit to 47-37.
The final period saw the Lady Eagles prove why they were ranked atop Class 1A as they kicked their offense into overdrive. Wernert lifted the Lady Eagles’ lead to safe ground with another 10 points, followed by five points from Crosier, four from sophomore guard Ava Kerr and buckets from Gordon and sophomore guard Jane Davis. The Lady Cougars could counter only with 10 points, eight of which came from Tabeling alongside a Jordan Brewer bucket to finish off the Lady Eagles’ biggest win of the season, 70-47.
“Our tenacity has a tendency to wear on people after a while,” Hinton said. “In the second half, we finally started wearing (Trinity Lutheran) down, and we picked up our pace and made some baskets.”
Tabeling led all scorers with 28, while Froedge had 12 and Brewer chipped in seven. Wernert paced the Lady Eagles with 25 points, while Crosier added 14.
With the victory, not only have the Lady Eagles pushed their winning streak to 14 straight, but they continue their dominance over Class 1A opponents. After defeating Rock Creek Community Academy 58-18 two nights later, the Lady Eagles finished the regular season with a perfect 9-0 record against 1A opponents.
Despite their perfect record against their class, the Lady Eagles know that matters will not be as simple should they return to regional in February. They also know that this contest may not be the last time the Lady Eagles see the Lady Cougars this year.
“If we keep playing basketball like we’re playing, that’s our goal to make it back (to regional),” Hinton said. “Trinity’s got a great chance to be there, Tecumseh’s got a great chance, Vincennes Rivet coming back and Northeast Dubois is playing really good basketball right now. They’re just some teams that have been on our radar that we’ve been trying to watch and prepare ourselves to play at that level.”
After scraping by Eastern (Pekin) 36-25 on Saturday and hosting Salem yesterday (Tuesday) in their home finale, the Lady Eagles will conclude the regular season on Friday when they travel to Scottsburg to confront the Warriorettes at 7:30 p.m.