While the Crothersville girls basketball team surmounted another milestone Friday night, a victory tonight would prove monumental.
The Tigers defeated Orleans 54-41 to punch a ticket to tonight’s Sectional 61 championship game and also earn a school record 18th win on the season.
Crothersville (18-8) will play West Washington (16-10) tonight in the finals, as they hope to win their first ever sectional crown — girls or boys — in any sport.
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Crothersville joined the IHSAA in 1914, stayed until they dropped out for one year in 1917, and rejoined in 1918. They have been a member since, and the girls basketball team played in their first sectional in 1975.
The previous mark of 17 wins for the girls program was set twice, during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.
The Tigers’ defense frustrated the Bulldogs (6-15) in the opening eight minutes.
After the teams tied a pair up to the 2:58 mark, the Tigers closed the first quarter on a 6-0 run led by a 3-pointer by Piper Hensley.
Holding a 10-4 lead to start the second quarter, Nikki Hickman went to work for the Tigers off the bench.
Hickman scored back-to-back baskets from close range to extend the Tigers’ lead to 16-8 with 3:45 left in the half.
Hensley hit another three before Kalynda Hoevener got a layup at the buzzer to extend the Tigers’ advantage to 21-12 at intermission.
At halftime, the Tigers were on top in the rebounding department 17-12.
While the Bulldogs went on an 8-0 streak from 7:05 to 5:51 in the third quarter, to narrow the deficit to 23-19, the Tigers responded in a big way.
Crothersville strung together a 12-2 run, behind six points by Maddie Riley off the bench, to bolster their lead to 35-21 with 1:45 left in the third quarter.
A basket by Katrina Christian put the Tigers up 37-24 after 24 minutes of play.
Scoring eight unanswered points, led by an and-one by Christian and 3-pointer from Hensley, the Tigers led 50-33 with 2:46 left in the game.
Up 53-38 with 49 seconds left, the Tigers emptied their bench as they cruised to the win.
Tigers coach Kevin Hensley said that defensive adjustments made the difference in the second half.
“A lot of was them switching to man from a triangle,” Hensley said. “When they switched, they had a hard time staying in front of us. I think it was also us switching to a 1-2-1-1, which threw them off from our man-to-man.”
Piper Hensley led the Tigers with 14 points on four 3-pointers, Christian tallied 13 and Riley added 12.
Led by eight boards from Riley, the Tigers outrebounded the Bulldogs 26-23.
Coach Hensley said that the bench came through with the Bulldogs focused in on Christian.
“They try to limit Katrina and make someone else beat them,” he said. “Maddie Riley stepped up big tonight. That’s what she’s capable of doing every night, and hopefully she keeps it going into tomorrow.”
The Tigers look for revenge against West Washington, as they fell to the Senators 65-57 on Dec. 15.
“I think a lot of it is keeping them mentally prepared,” coach Hensley said. “We will get in the gym and go over scenarios (this morning). We need to keep our heads level. We were in the ball game with them, we just made some errors that got us beat late.”
With the win on Friday night, the girls’ team also tied for the most wins for any basketball team at CHS. The boys’ basketball program reached 18 wins in the 1955-56 and 1979-80 seasons.
Senators sink Hornets
In the late semifinals game at Orleans on Friday, West Washington defeated Medora 72-25.
The Hornets (2-17) would never lead in the game and struggled to get the ball out of their own backcourt for the first four minutes of play.
Kailen Flynn scored the lone basket in the first quarter for the Hornets at the 4:20-mark.
The Senators answered Flynn’s shot, up 6-2, with a 13-0 run to close the quarter and lead 19-2 after eight minutes.
Medora turned the ball over 15 times in the first quarter.
Flynn added a 3-pointer and Lillie Hatfield scored a basket before the half, but the Hornets trailed 45-7.
Another trey by Flynn halted a 6-0 Senators run to start the third quarter. The Senators responded with an 8-0 run before a Hatfield basket, and led 61-13 heading into the final quarter.
Hatfield sank two threes and got a layup, and Kelsey Turner and Taylor Hunter added baskets as the Hornets outscored the Senators 12-11 in the fourth quarter.
Hatfield led the Hornets with 13 points and Flynn scored eight. Eight different players scored for the Senators, topped by 13 from Ryana Watson.
The Senators outrebounded the Hornets 38-23 and also won the turnover margin 7-28.
With no seniors on the team, all six members of the Hornets’ squad will return for the 2017-18 season.