I would like to commend the girls of Bloomfield, Clay City, Shakamak, White River Valley, and North Central for a splendid sectional.
With the exception of the Clay-City Eminence slaughter, all games were well worth watching, especially the Bloomfield-Clay City brouhaha. That game was what a sectional championship should be: closer than a good shave with some outstanding individual performances. It delivered which I guess is the best thing you can say about entertainment.
In each of Bloomfield’s games, every player who took the court contributed something, rebounds and good defense if no points. The Cardinals’ ferocious defense held two of the area’s best players, Avalee Jeffers of Clay City and Rachel Shroyer of North Central, to under 10 points in Bloomfield’s victories over those teams, 35-33 and 49-34, respectively.
The Lady Eels displayed commendable intestinal fortitude last Saturday as they never quit fighting. Many teams would have given up when they fell behind 14-0, but Clay City held on and finally tied the game in the fourth quarter.
The other games greatly presaged the championship.
Shakamak fell to North Central 45-31, but I thought the Lady Lakers played their best basketball of the season in the first half. They led 21-20 at halftime, but simply ran out of gas in the second half. However, my colleague Terry Schwinger pointed out Shakamak will have a great freshman class next year when its eighth-grade SWIAC champions enter high school.
The Lady Eels beat WRV 48-38, but it was a close game until early in the fourth quarter. Madelyn Ames popped two treys to conclude a 13-0 run over two quarters and break a tie game wide open. I think that third quarter may have been the basketball I saw all week.
The Lady Cardinals may have beaten North Central 49-34, but Bloomfield led by only 34-32 at the end of the third quarter. The Lady Cards played excellent defense, maybe their best of the season, to hold the LadyBirds to two points for the final frame.
We saw some fine individual performances at the sectional. Malea Toon, Kylee Shelton, Avalee Jeffers, Madelyn Ames, and Rachel Shroyer, the members of the All-Sectional team, all lived up to their reputations.
In his book, A Season on the Brink, John Feinstein relates how Bob Knight spoke to Steve Alford after a game in which Alford scored only eight points, a game which the Hoosiers lost. According to Feinstein, Knight told Alford players can do things other than scoring to help out their team.
Even in games where those players did not hit double figures they still made solid contributions. Jeffers may not have scored 10 in the championship, but she still led Clay City with nine rebounds and three steals. Ames could manage only four free throws against Bloomfield, but still grabbed six boards.
The Lady Cards held Shroyer to seven points, but she led her team six rebounds and swatted down four shots.
There were also some outstanding performances from players who didn’t make the All-Sectional team.
Moriah Messmer led Shakamak with nine points and 11 rebounds. She grabbed a missed free throw and laid it it in, drawing a foul and sinking the free throw to give Shakamak that halftime lead.
WRV’s Lacey Fisher played her heart out and scored 10 points to lead her team.
Kayla Pinnick came off the bench for Bloomfield in the North Central game and tallied eight points and eight rebounds
That same game saw Nicole Kilzer score seven and seize six boards.
Andrea Steward drilled three triples in the second half of the championship game to ignite Clay City’s rally.
Nanna Tonnesen turned in a solid game for the Lady Lakers with seven points, seven rebounds, and one blocked shot.
I thought the most critical shot of the sectional came in the fourth quarter of the championship game. The Lady Eels had just tied the score at 30-all when Kylee Shelton headed to the left corner and lofted a 19-foot rainbow that swished the net and gave Bloomfield a 32-30 lead. I think that, had she missed that shot and the Lady Eels scored again, the final might have been different.
Madelyn Ames also hit those two big shots against WRV, one triple to end the third quarter and one to begin the fourth. Those bombs effectively ended any chance the Lady Wolverines had of coming back on the Lady Eels.
Great plays and players, that’s what makes a sectional.
Senior Hayley England revealed an unexpected problem the Lady Cards encountered at the game’s end.
“Our freshman are asking how to cut the nets,” she laughed.
Read more about the Lady Cards road to the regional on page 9 and 10.