ELNORA — Loogootee’s sectional drought ended on Saturday night with a dominant 44-32 win over Orleans to take the 2020 sectional crown. Loogootee had waited 15 years for its fifth overall title, with the last one coming in 2005, but will only have to wait seven days before trying for a regional crown.
Sectional 63 had been dominated by Vincennes Rivet over recent years, but the IHSAA moved them up to 2A this season due to the IHSAA’s tournament success factor.
The Lions (23-2) used 16 points from Kalea Fleming and 14 from Brooklyn Jones, while Kylie VanHoy added six and Makenzie VanHoy had five, Isabelle Waggner also contributed a 3-ball in the victory.
“This wasn’t our best effort, but give a lot of credit to Orleans, they battled us hard,” said coach Brian Smith. “I’m really proud of these girls. We are really young. We have a slew of juniors, a sophomore and a senior in our top eight, and they all have worked so hard. With such a young team we had a lot of nerves and jitters, but I think after getting this one, we will be a lot more relaxed next week. This should help us get ready, but we are going to try to enjoy the week.”
Both teams were very patient with their offenses, taking time off the clock on every possession before Loogootee picked up the first bucket with just over four minutes to play in the half. The game was tied at 2-2 until Brooklyn Jones hit a jumper with 2:15 left in the quarter to make it 4-2, Loogootee. Isabelle Waggner also added a basket, but Orleans posted an outback with 15 seconds to send the Lady Dogs into the second, down 6-4.
Fleming opened the second with a pair of steals that turned into transition buckets and an 11-4 lead. Poor shooting continued to hurt the Bulldogs in the second, as they had only one basket in the first 13 minutes of the game.
Kylie VanHoy also turned a steal into bucket to make it 15-4. Orleans finally got back on the board with baskets from Hailee Powell, but treys from Makenzie VanHoy and Fleming helped Loogootee move out to a 23-11 margin at the half.
Jackie Gerkin gave Orleans a spark with a trey to open the third, but Kylie VanHoy answered with a bucket for the Lady Lions. Sheridan Robbins added four free throws for Orleans and was able to cut it back to 25-18 with 4:27 left in the third. Fleming and Robbins traded baskets. Robbins also hit a trey and continued to claw back to within four at 27-23. Jones would add a buzzer-beater to the Lions some breathing room and go into the final quarter with a 29-23 lead.
Fleming hit free throws and Makenzie VanHoy posted a basket to stop the Orleans momentum and give Loogootee a 10-point lead with under six minutes to play. Loogootee continued to take its time on possessions, paying off with a Jones basket. Fleming and Jones put the nail in the coffin with less than two minutes to play with a pair of buckets and were able to secure the win, 44-32, to advance to the West Washington Regional.
Orleans’ Sheridan Robbins had 13 in the game to lead the Bulldogs, all coming in the second half, while Powell had nine.
Loogootee will play Trinity Lutheran at noon on Saturday at West Washington.