Seniors lead Lanesville in season finale
By Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]
While the Eagles’ Nest in Lanesville is typically crowded during cold January weekends, there was hardly a seat to be had Friday night.
Many clad in purple looked upon the Class 1A No. 2 Lady Eagles’ trio of seniors — Linzie Wernert, Morgan Sonner and Kaylie Blankenbaker — as they were honored on senior night for their four years of dedication to the program. Some of that purple belonged to the Lady Eagles’ guests, the Warriorettes of Scottsburg.
The Warriorettes, who defeated another county powerhouse in Corydon Central back in December, was a strong late-season test for the Lady Eagles. In front of a crowd with equivalent electricity of a sectional championship game, the Lady Eagles fended off a late rally by the Warriorettes to conclude the regular season with a 46-41 victory.
“We knew that Scottsburg was good; we watched them beat Jeffersonville in the second half without arguably one of their best players (Hannah Stutsman),” Lady Eagles’ skipper Angie Hinton said. “We knew it was going to be a battle even though Stutsman wasn’t able to play. They’re a good team, they shoot and handle the ball well and they’re physical. We knew, regardless of the outcome, it was going to be a good test and good preparation for us going into sectional.”
The opening period suggested a tight contest as both sides went back and forth throughout. The Warriorettes got seven points from Katrina Cooper and five points from Carrie Hiler, while the Lady Eagles countered with six points from Sonner, buckets from sophomores Hylton Brumley and Shelby Allen and a pair of free throws from sophomore guard Hadley Crosier before the first quarter ended with the score knotted at 12.
The Lady Eagles began to pull away in the second quarter with three points from junior guard Ava Kerr, buckets from Crosier and Wernert and a pair of Sonner free throws. The Warriorettes’ initial response was a bucket from Ellie Richardson and three freebies in four attempts by Taneisha Griffin. The final minute of the second half saw Crosier extend the lead with a three-pointer, but Griffin slinged one into the basket right before the buzzer to cut the Lady Eagles’ half-time edge to 24-20.
While the scoring in the third quarter was mostly even, the Warriorettes creeped closer courtesy of five points from Hiler and four apiece from Griffin and Richardson. Wernert led the Lady Eagles’ counterattack in the period with six points followed by a pair of free throws each from Crosier and Kerr and a Sonner deuce to send the game into the fourth quarter with a 36-33 host advantage.
The Warriorettes rallied in the final period, and took the lead at a couple of points, on the back of five points from Cooper and three from Griffin. Despite getting off to a slow start in the frame, the Lady Eagles answered with four points from Wernert, a bucket from Sonner and a combined four free throws in six attempts by Crosier and Brumley to seal the Lady Eagles’ 46-41 victory to a roaring Lanesville faithful.
“(Scottsburg) was very aggressive. Hadley and I are typically some of our bigger scorers, and they really keyed in on us and tried to shut us down, which I think worked in the first half,” Wernert said. “Then, in the second half, we really figured out how to get around it and get some more points on the board. Once we got a little momentum (in the fourth quarter), we just kept going and built off of it.”
Of the four Warriorettes to score, three broke into double figures, led by Griffin’s game-high 13, followed by Cooper’s 12 and Hiler’s 10. Sonner and Wernert came through on senior night as they paced the Lady Eagles with 12 points each followed by 11 from Crosier.
With the victory, the Lady Eagles put a close to a 22-2 regular season, including going undefeated in the Eagles’ Nest for the second consecutive season. For the Lady Eagles’ trio of seniors, they finish one of the most dominant careers at home with a 37-1 record during the past four seasons. Their lone loss in that span occurred against Trinity Lutheran on Jan. 14, 2021.
“These are special kids, and we’ve gone through a lot together,” Hinton said of her seniors. “We’ve been in the trenches together and battled through a lot of adversity in their four years. They’ve been very good leaders for the other kids, which is so important to your program.”
As another regular season draws to a close, the Lady Eagles now turn their sights on Borden, the site of this year’s Indiana High School Athletic Association Sectional 61. Their quest for a fifth-straight sectional title will begin on Friday in the second semi-final game, where they will play the winner of Christian Academy of Indiana vs. Rock Creek Community Academy.
With a victory, the Lady Eagles would then move into Saturday night’s championship game, which is likely to come against the host Lady Braves. As they eye a deep post-season run, they know that this will be their toughest sectional in the Angie Hinton era, but Wernert also knows that this sectional is still the Lady Eagles’ to lose.
“We play Friday night against either Rock Creek or Christian Academy, then hopefully we end up playing on Saturday, most likely against Borden,” Wernert said. “Borden’s going to try and beat us, but we beat them already this year and we’re going to do it again.”
Tipoff for the semifinal is set to tip at 7:30 p.m., while Saturday’s championship game is slated for 7 p.m.