The Orleans girls basketball defense forces their opposition to play ugly.
While Crothersville was able to climb out of a seven-point hole to start the fourth quarter and narrow the deficit to a single point, the Tigers couldn’t complete the rally as they fell 43-39 in the Class A Sectional 61 semifinals Friday in Borden.
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With one minute left in the fourth quarter and trailing 40-34, Tigers senior Abby Jewell hit a 12-footer.
Junior Katrina Christian followed Jewell’s basket with a score near the rim to pull within two points with 44 ticks left.
At 28 seconds, Tigers sophomore Lacey Hall stole the ball and was fouled after collecting an offense rebound.
She split the free throws, to make it 40-39, and the Tigers were forced to foul with 17 seconds on the clock.
Following a pair of made free throws by the Bulldogs’ Allie Daugherty, to put her team up 42-39, the Tigers ran one final play to senior Alexis Adair in the corner for a 3-point attempt.
The shot didn’t fall, as the Bulldogs secured the win.
With the loss, the Tigers finish their 2015-16 campaign at 12-11.
Tigers coach Kevin Hensley said Orleans’ defense kept his team on their toes.
“They will play man and then switch to zone with it still looking like a man defense,” he said. “It’s almost like a matchup zone. I think it threw the girls off a little bit. It makes you get out of your norm, switching offenses.”
The Tigers took an early 10-9 lead in the opening eight minutes behind four points by Christian.
A 3-pointer by freshman Piper Hensley gave the Tigers an 18-17 lead halfway through the second quarter, but the Bulldogs answered with a 6-2 run to go up 23-20.
At halftime, Orleans led 25-24.
The Bulldogs came out of the locker room strong, going on a 7-0 run led by a 3-pointer by Caitlin Rutherford and two baskets by 5-foot-11 forward Linza Busick.
Holding Crothersville to five points in the third quarter, the Bulldogs stayed on top at 34-29 through 24 minutes of play.
“We started trailing their girls and not cutting them off,” Kevin Hensley said. “We were too late and they were getting their open looks. If they’re going to make cuts, we had to get there.
Adair, Jewell, Cassidy Mantz, Alisha Basil and Julia McIntosh will graduate from the basketball program.
“Abby, Alexis and Cassidy have been around all four years and stuck with it,” Kevin Hensley said. “They have worked — trying to make the program better along with Alisha and Julia. They were all leaders for us. All five of them have been a blessing to me.”