VINCENNES — VINCENNES – A magnificent season came to a sudden and sad end for the Washington Lady Hatchets as Southridge eliminated the state’s ninth-ranked team 41-40 in semifinal action of Sectional 31 at Alice Arena on Saturday.
The end came for Washington (17-4) at the hands of Aubrey Main, who was fouled in the act of shooting with .9 seconds left. Following a Lady Hatchet timeout, Main hit the first shot to break the 40-40 tie. After another WHS timeout, Main missed her second shot, which was rebounded by Washington’s Cheyenne Jones. Jones immediately called for a timeout, stopping the clock at .6 seconds.
After the timeout, Washington worked the ball to Ally Hunsinger near midcourt. But Hunsinger, who was surrounded by three Southridge (15-5) players upon catching the inbounds pass, was unable to get a good look at the basket as her shot fell well short of the goal as the horn sounded.
The loss was a bitter pill to swallow for the Lady Hatchets, the large crowd that accompanied them to Vincennes on Saturday, and for coach Gretchen Miles. Following the game, Miles praised her three seniors – Hunsinger, Audra Stallman, and Lupe Perez – who were a part of four consecutive winning seasons and, as seniors, led the program to the its best season in a decade.
“It’s tough, you go into a locker room and you have a lot of heads hanging and tears flowing. For the seniors, it’s just all the work, the years of dedication they have put in,”said Miles. “It just doesn’t get any better than those three seniors. They’re three totally different kids, but together they have made a successful basketball team.
“And it’s a credit to them (seniors) also how well our younger kids have stepped up this season because of their leadership and guidance. On game nights, the coaches are just kind of like decoration out there,” said Miles. “It’s just all the time they’ve put in, the hard work they’ve put forth. As coaches, we’re the lucky ones to have kids like this on our basketball team.”
Washington led at each of the first three stops – 10-6 after one quarter, 16-10 at halftime, and 30-29 after three periods. The Lady Hatchets appeared poised to take control of the contest early in the third quarter. A 6-0 run, including two baskets by Stallman and a bucket by Jones, gave Washington a double-digit lead at 22-12 less than 3:00 into the second half.
But Southridge quickly responded, going on a 12-0 run to take the Lady Raiders’ first lead of the day at 24-23. From there, the two teams would never be separated by more than four points the rest of the game.
Despite being the focus of intense defensive attention by Southridge, Hunsinger finished with 13 points, tying her with Jones for team high honors. Stallman was next with eight points, followed by four from Perez and two from Jenna Johnson. Main paced three Lady Raiders in double figures with 14 points, followed by 12 from Kadie Dearing and 10 from Kayla Voegerl.
The Lady Hatchets shot 50 percent from the field (16-32) and limited Southridge to 33 percent (13-40) shooting. But the Lady Raiders held a 24-19 rebounding advantage, including 12 offensive rebounds, many of which turned in second chance points for Southridge. The Lady Raiders were also 7-8 from the free throw line compared to 5-16 for WHS.
“In any game, especially big time games, where you’re playing every game like a championship game situation, it’s the little things make a huge difference,” said Miles.“People think the little things of the game, where maybe you miss an offensive rebound there or a free throw here (don’t matter). But those things add up when you take a look back at the outcome of the game.
“From that standpoint, by giving up those offensive rebounds in the first half or not taking advantage on free throw situations (1-9 from the line in the first half) we let Southridge hang around, hang around,” said Miles. “And they’re a very good ball club, very well coached. A lot of them are sophomores, and they don’t play like sophomores.”
Vincennes Lincoln defeated Mitchell in Saturday’s first semifinal.