The North Daviess Lady Cougars were inches away, but for the second year in a row they couldn't beat Barr-Reeve in the sectional.
The Class A No. 10 Vikings (17-4) defeated the Cougars (16-5), 52-50, in the first round of Sectional 63 Tuesday at Kavanaugh Kourt. North Daviess fell to Barr-Reeve 50-24 in last year's sectional final.
With just over two minutes to play in regulation, junior Meghan Knepp put the Cougars up 49-48 with her sixth 3-pointer of the night. On the ensuing play, Vikings sophomore Hannah Bullock missed an open three of her own, and North Daviess looked to have the momentum.
In an attempt to beat the Barr-Reeve press defense, North Daviess senior point guard Larynda Keith lifted a pass to Sabra Smith, who was streaking down the left sideline, but Smith didn¹t see the pass and the ball fell out of bounds for a turnover.
Jenna Knepp answered with a jumper to give the Vikings the lead, 50-49.
After a Meghan Knepp missed 3-pointer, senior Cori Cummings converted two free throws to close out the game. Despite the loss, North Daviess coach Ron Knepp couldn't fault his team.
"That was the best I have seen us play all year," Ron Knepp said. "They put their hearts and souls into it. There at the end Sabra (Smith) was gassed. We played (Sabra) Smith, Meghan (Knepp) and Larynda (Keith) all 32 minutes. We don¹t have a sub for them."
Both teams came out on fire in the first quarter. North Daviess got eight points apiece from Meghan Knepp and Sabra Smith to take a 16-13 lead after the first quarter. The high octane offense continued in the second quarter, as Barr-Reeve won the quarter 17-15, but trailed 31-30 at halftime.
In the second half, the Vikings finally got some momentum when Tracy Graber converted a three-point play to take a 33-31 lead, their first lead since a 3-0 lead. The teams went back and forth trading punches, and when the dust settled Barr-Reeve held a 42-40 lead after three quarters.
North Daviess opened the final quarter with five straight points, a layup from Smith and a 3-pointer from Meghan Knepp to take a 45-42 lead. The Vikings opened with five straight of their own to take a two-point lead.
Barr-Reeve withstood a phenomenal shooting performance from Smith and Meghan Knepp, who both scored 23 points and combined for 10 3-pointers.
"I'll be honest you don't win too many games when those numbers are put up against you," said Barr-Reeve coach Mark Holt.
Barr-Reeve got 18 points from Jenna Knepp and 17 more from Graber to survive and advance to the semi-finals where they will matchup with Washington Catholic.
"My girls have a little fight left in them too," Holt said. "To take all those punches to the head, to the nose, to the mouth, my girls kept coming back. Congratulations to North Daviess, and my girls as well. That was a gutty, gutty effort to beat a team that was on fire."