DUNLAP – It was not a place for the favorites, or for the faint of heart for that matter, inside McCuen Gym Friday night.
The 2018 edition of Hoosier Hysteria on the girls’ side featured a pair of stunners in two down to the final buzzer semifinal clashes in the Class 4-A Concord Sectional.
The end results find an All-Elkhart final set for Saturday night after Elkhart Memorial and Elkhart Central turned the tables on Warsaw and Northridge in two outstanding contests.
Memorial held off a late Warsaw surge to top the Tigers 38-35 in the second semifinal game. The Crimson Chargers had lost a 57-35 final at Warsaw in an NLC game back on Jan. 10.
Central started the entertaining evening by upending No. 12 and defending sectional champion Northridge 54-52. The Blue Blazers lost at home to the Raiders 54-43 back on Nov. 21.
Central never trailed versus the Raiders, who finish at 21-4, Friday night. The Blue Blazers led 14-0 after the first quarter, 27-23 at halftime and 42-34 after three quarters.
Star guard Trinitee Harris made four free throws in the final 24 seconds to help Central keep the lead. The biggest one came with 10.1 seconds to play to make it 53-49. That one came after she rebounded her own miss of a free throw with 11.6 ticks left and was fouled again. Junior Harris scored 23 points and senior Krisen Hunt 20 to lead Central.
Memorial (14-9) will meet crosstown rival Central (16-8) Saturday at 6 p.m. back in McCuen for the sectional title and a spot in the LaPorte Regional on Feb. 10. Memorial topped the Blue Blazers 46-39 at Central on Dec. 13.
Memorial owns 14 sectional titles in program history with the last coming in 2012. Central, which is having its best season in years, won its lone two sectional championships in 1977 and 1981.
The 3-point shot is a thing of beauty when it goes in the bucket.
Memorial proved that in taming the Tigers for the program’s biggest postseason win in several seasons.
The Crimson Chargers hit on 7-14 shots from distance, while Warsaw went 7-22 from beyond the arc versus the Memorial 2-3 zone defense.
The outcome was not decided until a trey try by Warsaw’s Kaylee Patton from the top of the key at the final horn was deflected by a Memorial defender.
First-year Warsaw coach Lenny Krebs knew the Chargers would be a dangerous foe, especially if they hit some outside shots and got going.
He proved to be exactly right in that regard.
“Memorial deserved to win the game tonight,” said Krebs. “They out executed us. They did not outwork us, but their execution was better.
“We didn’t do the little things as well as we needed to and that’s on me as the leader of this program. We needed to find ways to get the ball inside more versus their zone and that falls on me.
“Memorial shot it well and we gave them a few too many open looks on threes. You can’t do that at this point of the season and expect to advance.”
Warsaw came out and took a 10-6 lead after the opening frame as Kaylee Patton drained two triples. The second quarter though saw Warsaw settle for too many long range jumpers. Memorial rallied to a 17-13 lead at halftime by closing the second stanza on a 7-0 run. Warsaw shot 5-20 overall from the field, including 3-14 from distance in the opening half.
The Tigers trailed by as many as eight points in the third period and were down 27-22 going to the final frame. Warsaw got within two points on four occasions in the fourth quarter, but could never tie the game. Sophomore Libby Lapczynski hit a huge trey for Memorial with 2:18 to play to make it 35-30. Emma Bohnenkamper then hit a clutch triple of her own to pull Warsaw within 35-33. Sophomore Mya Reeves then converted a layup to make it 37-33 with 1:07 left.
Kacy Bragg hit two free throws for the Tigers to slice the deficit to 37-35 with 14.7 seconds to play before senior Sierra Peete hit the first of two free throws for a 38-35 lead with 12.7 ticks left. The Tigers then missed a pair of shots, but got one final possession with 1.5 seconds remaining after the ball went out of bounds off a Memorial player. After a Warsaw timeout, Patton’s final try to send the game to overtime fell short.
“We talked at halftime that we had to do a better job getting pressure inside their zone,” remarked Krebs. “We needed to puncture their zone from the inside and we didn’t do that often enough. We were spectators too often inside versus their zone and that contributed to the outcome.”
Junior Maddie Ryman was outstanding for Warsaw. The point guard scored a game-high 16 points, including 13 of her team’s 22 in the second half. She hit four triples in the contest.
“Maddie had a great game,” noted Krebs. “I’m so proud of the growth she’s shown this season. She’s come so far in a year. There’s a lot of pressure on her. I would not want to be a point guard playing for me. She’s done a great job.”
Patton scored eight points for the Tigers. Junior Kacy Bragg had six points and senior Emma Bohnenkamper five. Sophomore Brielle Harrison led Warsaw with eightt rebounds.
Warsaw shot 13-37 overall from the field and 2-2 from the free throw line.
Reeves led Memorial with 10 points. Libby Lapczynski had nine points, Peete eight and Cambria Dale six for the winners. Memorial shot 15-32 overall from the field and was 1-6 from the line.
Warsaw had defeated the Chargers in seven of their previous eight meetings prior to Friday night, including 58-32 in the sectional a year ago.
Warsaw, which lost six seniors from last year’s 20-4 squad, finishes 15-9.
“We accomplished a lot on the floor this season and I’m extremely happy with the progress that we made,” said Krebs, who came to Warsaw after coaching the Goshen ladies for the previous 14 seasons. “We have a lot of positives to build on. The biggest positive is that we established a culture. Our three seniors started that process and when we hang banners in the future they can come back and know what they started.
“I have so much love for these girls. I learned so much from them and they made me better every day.”
Warsaw loses three seniors in Bohnenkamer, Kennedy Patton and Miah Holsclaw.