Two solid performances and two solid wins added up to a Final Four berth for the Lady Lions Saturday in the Brownstown Central Regional.
The Lady Lions took care of Jasper 59-48 in the semifinal and then dominated Corydon Central 52-32 to win the regional title.
ÒI am so proud of these young ladies. They played with guts, intensity and focus,Ó head coach Melissa Marlow said. ÒTo come out and play the way they did against an outstanding team and limit them to 32 points showed great mental toughness. They battled through fatigue and won. They continue to give effort that their school and community can be proud of.Ó
On the day, the Lady Lions outscored their opponents in every quarterÉleaving little doubt in which team was the best and most deserving to advance with the opportunity to battle for a semistate title.
Rushville opened its day offensively with a traditional three-point play by Keragan Niehoff. She led the Lady Lions in the game with 18 points.
After a 3-pointer by JasperÕs Emily Jones, a bucket by Mackenzie Campbell gave the Lady Lions the lead for good. After pushing the lead to 16-7, Jasper scored four straight to cut the deficit to 16-11 after the first quarter.
Mikayla DoughertyÕs hot shooting propelled the Lady Lions in the second quarter. She hit a pair of 3-pointer and had a traditional three-point play as the Lady Lions led 32-26 at the half.
The Lady Lions ballooned the lead to 48-32 with three minutes to play in the third quarter, but Jasper closed the frame with nine straight points to cut the deficit to 48-41 heading to the fourth quarter.
A bucket by Jasper standout Shelby Merder cut the Rushville lead to 48-45, but that was as close as the Lady Lions allowed the Wildcats to get. The Lady Lions outscored Jasper 11-3 (including 4-of-5 from the charity stripe) to seal the win and advance to the regional final.
The Lady Lions were led by Niehoff with 18 points. Dougherty had 16.
The Lady Lions appeared fatigued at the end of the game, setting up a need for strong play from the bench in the title game against Corydon Central (55-52 winners over Evansville Bosse in the other semifinal).
ÒI am extremely pleased with the way our bench played yesterday,Ó Coach Marlow said. ÒWe got great minutes from them.Ó
The bench was vital as subs came in early and made plays for the Lady Lions. Rushville trailed early 7-6 despite two Campbell 3-pointers.
Rushville took the lead on a drive by Sarah Cook and followed that with a bucket by Casey Yager and free throws by Kaley Flannery. Rushville led 12-8 after one quarter.
Rushville scored the first seven points of the second frame. Buckets by Campbell and Kelsi Ash sandwiched a Dougherty 3-pointer.
Corydon fought back to cut the deficit to 19-14, but a bucket by Yager and five straight from Niehoff extended the lead. Rushville led 26-17 at the half.
The Lady Lions took control again to start the second half. CookÕs bucket opened the scoring and a free throw by Flannery had the lead at 34-17.
CorydonÕs first points came with 2:56 to play in the quarter. Rushville took a 39-27 lead to the fourth quarter.
In the final stanza, the Lady Panthers only scored five points. Rushville poured in another 13 points to claim the regional crown 52-32.
Campbell led the Lady Lions with 12 points. Cook and Ash both had 10.
The Lady Lions face a familiar foe in the semistate Ð conference foe Mt. Vernon (Fortville). The Lady Marauders defeated Indian Creek 54-49. The two conference foes square off in the Richmond Semistate in the second game of the day. The first game is in Class A as Vincennes Rivet takes on Southwestern (Shelby).
The other Class 3A semistate pits Benton Central and Hamilton Heights. The Lady Lions, Mt. Vernon and Hamilton Heights were all in the same sectional just two seasons ago and are now three of the Final Four teams left in 3A.
Contact: Aaron Kirchoff at 765-932-2222 ext. 114