Lanesville’s regional hopes stymied by Tecumseh
By Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]
For the Lanesville Lady Eagles, 2021-22 will always be remembered as a season for the ages.
Days after securing their school-record fourth sectional title, the Class 1A No. 2 Lady Eagles ventured Saturday to the regional 16 site at West Washington. They started the day in historic fashion when they defeated No. 6 Vincennes Rivet 58-25, avenging their loss to the Lady Patriots in the opening game of the 2019 Springs Valley regional.
With the program’s first-ever regional title within their grasp, the Lady Eagles returned to Tower Gymnasium later that night as they looked to complete their regional revenge tour against another post-season nemesis, No. 7 Tecumseh. The Lady Braves have been responsible for ending the Lady Eagles’ season the past two years, starting with a 65-58 loss in 2020 followed by a slim 63-60 setback in 2021.
While the Lady Eagles took an early advantage, a mixture of early foul trouble, inconsistent officiating for both sides and untimely missed shots ultimately doomed the Lady Eagles as their season died at the hands of the Lady Braves for the third consecutive year, 47-46.
“This (Tecumseh) team was very similar to (Vincennes Rivet), but this one’s a little bit stronger physically and gonna be more aggressive than what Rivet was,” Lady Eagles’ head coach Angie Hinton said. “I thought we played defense well, but it was just an inconsistent game of how things were called and when they were called.”
Initially, the regional championship looked to be yet another foregone conclusion as the Lady Eagles jumped out to a 9-0 start, powered by six points from freshman guard Hadley Crosier notched between a three-pointer from senior wing Kennedy Gordon. The Lady Braves overcame the initial shock with a 9-2 surge of their own, starting with buckets by Kaybree Oxley and Karsyn Flowers.
The Lady Braves’ offense in the opening frame came at the foul line as the Lady Eagles’ Crosier, junior wing Linzie Wernert and sophomore guard Ava Kerr each procured two personal fouls. Oxley and Jenna Donohoo capitalized on the strain on the Lady Eagles’ rotation by going a combined 5 for 7 from the charity stripe. Crosier and freshman guard Hylton Brumley added buckets amid the freebies to keep the Lady Eagles ahead 13-9 to end the opening frame.
The parade to the free-throw line continued for the Lady Braves when Crosier and Wernert both picked up their third fouls in the second quarter, allowing Donohoo and Pennelope Lemen to knock down another six free throws amid buckets from Katelyn MacDonald and Morgan Wilson. Wernert and senior guard Emma Campbell each knocked down triples in the period alongside a bucket from junior center Morgan Sonner and Kerr managing one free throw in four consecutive attempts. The Lady Braves had the last word in the first half when Lemen knocked down a game-tying long ball before storming into the locker room with the score 22-all.
“I think we came out with a lot of energy,” Hinton said. “Hadley came out and was just really aggressive going to the basket to make a shot, then we just got to playing a little too fast and too careless.”
The Lady Eagles’ foul troubles left them a tad frazzled to begin the second half, and the Lady Braves’ physical play didn’t help matters to begin the third quarter. Amid the Eagles’ faithful’s complaints about the officiating, the Lady Braves knocked down another five free throws in seven attempts between Donohoo and Flowers while the 5-foot-10 Oxley went off inside for eight points. Gordon led the Lady Eagles in the period with another three alongside buckets from Wernert, Kerr, Crosier and Sonner, though Sonner picked up consecutive fouls while Wernert picked up her fourth personal before the period ended with a 38-33 Lady Braves’ edge.
Despite untimely fouls in the fourth quarter, the Lady Eagles fought to keep the contest within a single possession throughout the period. Purple-clad fans held onto hope as the Lady Eagles got a trio of crucial triples, one apiece from Crosier, Campbell and Gordon, along with layups from Gordon and Wernert. The penalties, which ultimately resulted in Crosier fouling out, kept the Lady Braves ahead with five more freebies in seven attempts as well as buckets from Donohoo and Oxley.
After Gordon’s triple tickled the twine to cut the deficit to 47-46, the Lady Eagles nearly caught a break when Brumley poked the ball free of Flowers’ hands. Both Brumley and Flowers dove for the ball as it rolled out of bounds, but the possession remained with the Lady Braves’ much to the purple faithful’s dismay.
With 2.8 seconds remaining, the Lady Eagles again had an opportunity to save their season when Wernert intercepted the long inbound pass at the half-court line. With less than a second remaining, Wernert elevated for a “hail Mary” shot, but Gordon could only watch as the ball was several feet short of touching the iron before the Lady Braves stormed the court in celebrating their first-ever regional title, again ending the Lady Eagles’ season, 47-46.
Crosier led the way for the Lady Eagles with 13 points, eight of which came in the opening quarter, while Gordon added 11. Donohoo led the Lady Braves with 17 points. The foul line was the deciding factor in this contest as the Lady Braves converted 20 of 26 free throws, while the Lady Eagles were 3 for 6.
The Lady Eagles’ 26-2 record is the best mark in program history, including their deepest post-season run as well as a program-record 22 consecutive victories that was snapped by the Lady Braves.
“Coming into this season, we didn’t know what to expect, but those young kids really turned our team around and gave us an opportunity to have this kind of success,” Hinton said. “Getting to the (regional) championship game was a big hump for us. My seniors, for two years, stuck with it. They were great leaders, great communicators with the kids outside of the gymnasium and the locker room, keeping (others) involved, making them understand and just lending a helping hand at all times. Now, we got to have some kids step up next year.”
The Lady Eagles’ senior class is one of quality over quantity as Campbell and Gordon, the most decorated senior class in program history, see their careers draw to a close.
“This season has meant so much to me; Joe and Angie have not only taught me how to play basketball, but they taught me about many life goals and I’m grateful for the experience they let me have,” Campbell said. “This group of girls I’ve played with this year was just unreal, and being 26-2 is absolutely insane. God really granted us this entire journey together, and I’m very grateful for that.”