LOOGOOTEE — The North Daviess girls basketball team did everything right for three quarters, but you have to play a full game if you want to beat Barr-Reeve — especially in the postseason.
Barr-Reeve (17-3) outscored North Daviess (16-5) 19-3 in the fourth quarter of Saturday's Class A Sectional 63 semifinal to earn a 51-45 victory and advance to Monday night's championship game against Vincennes Rivet at Jack Butcher Arena.
For the first three quarters, North Daviess played as well as it could have hoped entering the matchup against rival Barr-Reeve, but the final eight minutes was another story. Freshman point guard Abby Cecil hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the third quarter to give North Daviess the momentum and a 42-32 lead. In the third quarter, the Vikings used its vaunted full court press with varying degrees of success, but in the fourth, North Daviess couldn't break the press.
Cecil opened the fourth with two missed free throws at the 6:07 mark, and Barr-Reeve answered with six straight points on baskets from Tiara Kenney, Jenna Knepp and Tracy Graber. Olivia Carroll was called for a carrying violation with 4:15 left, but North Daviess couldn't find an answer. Sabra Smith missed two free throws and North Daviess coach Ron Knepp took a timeout with 3:16 to play with the Cougars still leading by four.
Carroll scored a layup after a diving steal from freshman Megan Graber and then Caroll split a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 42-41 with 2:41 to play. A Kenney layup with two minutes left gave Barr-Reeve its first lead since 7-2 midway through the first quarter. A Smith turnover, followed by one free throw from Kenney and a layup from Tracy Graber gave the Vikings a four-point lead, which felt like double digits.
"We executed exactly how we wanted for the first three and a half quarters, but our offense put too much pressure on our defense to make stops," Knepp said. "We were just exhaused in that last half of the quarter. Defensively, we were just exhausted and just couldn't make those stops."
North Daviess finally scored its first points of the quarter on when Cecil banked in a 3-pointer with 29 second to play in regulation, but by then it was too late. North Daviess missed six free throws in the fourth and had a very difficult time just getting the ball past half court against Barr-Reeve's pressure.
Barr-Reeve jumped out to a 7-2 lead with both teams looking a little tight, but the Cougars bounced back with an 11-2 run to end the quarter with a 13-9 lead. Senior Meghan Knepp scored four of her seven points in the quarter. In the second quarter, the Cougars extended their lead by outscoring Barr-Reeve 14-5. Smith ended the first half with 14 points — matching Barr-Reeve's team point total up to that point.
"North Daviess played a fantastic first half," Holt said. "They made shots, they defended and they took us out of our offense. They did everything well and left us frustrated. At halftime we told the girls, North Daviess had played very well, but had expended a lot of energy. If we can find the guts and the heart to keep playing and get that lead down to six or eight points going into the fourth quarter we can see how much gas they have left."
In the third quarter, the Vikings went to their full court press and were able to bite into the lead, but North Daviess handled the run and had its best scoring quarter with 15 points, but were outscored by three as Barr-Reeve totaled 18 points. Smith led North Daviess with 16 points, Cecil and Brooke Moore had eight points a piece, Meghan Knepp added seven and Makayla Spears had six points.
It was a disappointing end for the four seniors — Meghan Knepp, Smith, Maggie Swartzentruber and Abby Hollis, who have worked so hard to help build up the North Daviess girls basketball program. The Cougars totaled a record of 32-10 over the past two seasons, but lost in the last two sectional's to Barr-Reeve by a combined seven points.
"The team gave everything it had, it just wasn't our night," Ron Knepp said. "I just want to thank the seniors for all they have done for the program. I really appreciate their effort and how they laid it on the line every night."
Jenna Knepp led Barr-Reeve with 15 points, Kenney had 12, Bullock and Tracy Graber had eight points a piece and Carroll had seven. The Vikings will be back at Jack Butcher Arena Monday night at 7 p.m. to take on Vincennes Rivet, who defeated Shoals, 67-19 in the first semifinal. Rivet defeated the Vikings, 60-47 in last year's sectional final at Kavanaugh Kourt.
"Tomorrow the girls will go to church and need to rest and replenish," Holt said. "They exerted a ton of energy tonight and we have to re-fuel for Monday night. We'll do some things before school and definitely some things after school. We'll go back to look at some things on tape from when we played them a few weeks ago. In that game there is nothing we did terribly wrong, but there are a lot of things we can do a lot better."