Feb. 8—Fans of Daviess County girls' basketball will be in for a real treat on Saturday as both the Washington Lady Hatchets and Barr-Reeve Lady Vikings will be advancing to the Crawford County Regional.
And the nice thing about the new multi-class, one-game regional is that they both could come home as champions.
3A No. 10 Washington will open the tourney at 1 p.m., with PAC top dog No. 3 Gibson Southern, while Barr-Reeve will play No. 1 Lanesville in the 4 p.m. game.
The teams will feature lots of county cross overs between the staffs, as B-R coach Lacey Higgins was part of WHS staff for 10 years under coach Gretchen Miles, and both were former players for former WHS coach Steve Brothers. In fact, at one point, Higgins was coached by Miles during her junior and senior year, along with serving on Miles's soccer staff as well (where the Lady Hatchets won a regional).
"This is my first sectional and Washington's first since I left, so it is special that we will be able to do this together. Everything I have done to build this program was based on things that I learned from Gretchen," said Higgins. "It was a great weekend for girls' basketball in our area."
Miles also has high praise for Higgins and what she is doing at Barr-Reeve.
"Coach Higgins and her team winning a sectional title early in her head coaching career is no surprise. Her ability to build positive relationships with all of her players is what separates her, because she then gets the personal best out of all of them and they trust her to challenge them and they know she wants the best for them. She is phenomenal on strategies against opponents and getting her team to buy into that and execute the plan and that was very obvious in their sectional run. She is a worker, understands kids as a person first and a basketball player second, and she is a winner," said Miles.
Although the Hatchets were probably sectional favorites coming into last week, they had a tough draw having to play three quality teams. For the Vikings, they had an even tougher draw, having to play rival Loogootee, then No. 9 Springs Valley and No. 4 Orleans and Now face No. 1 Lanesville.
Barr-Reeve (13-12) v. Lanesville (25-1)
If the Vikings thought they had a tall task at sectional, it gets even taller at regional.
The Vikes take on No. 1 Lanesville, team whose only loss this season came against 3A Memorial in a holiday tourney. At sectional, they defeated Christian Academy, 56-26, Rock Creek Academy, 59-47 and No.3 Borden, 41-20 to win their sixth straight sectional. The Eagles are the defending Class A champions and coach Angie Hinton, is 141-20 in her sixth year at Lanesville, along with being 322-95 overall.
The Vikings have now won three straight games but were 10-12 when the regular season ended. Coach Higgins and the Vikes went on to avenge losses to all three teams they would play at sectional, including No. 9 Springs Valley and No. 4 Orleans, who had more than 40 wins between them.
The Vikes got three superb games from 6-footer Hannah Bledsoe, who was dominant both rebounding and blocking shots. She is currently leading the team in both scoring and rebounds, and her free throw shooting was an important part of Saturday's upset win. Also having a great sectional was Ava Carter whose speed and athleticism was on display all week. Willow Thompson ran the show all week from the point, and although she only scored three points in the finals, they were the final three points of game and helped secure the title.
Bledsoe leads with 10.6 points and 8.7 boards, Thompson with 6.4 and Carter with 5.5 ppg. Olivia Emmons also adds around 5.0 points a game.
The rest of the Vikes were all contributors, including 3-point specialist Emmons, seniors Emma Knepp, Mariah Brunson, Kennedy Sinnott and Elle Knepp, all who came off the bench for several key buckets and boards.
The Eagles have basically four players in double figures, with PG Hadley Crozier getting 15, center Shelby Allen with 11.1, guard Ava Kerr at 10.5., and Hylton Brumley with 9.1.
As a team they are averaging 24 boards a game, with Allen getting 6.4 and Crosier and Kerr getting around five. The Eagles have a strong secondary core as well with Ellie Schneider, Emma Davis and Jane Davis, who can all score.
"They are so good. They have gone 53-3 in the last two years. We know we will be the underdog for the third straight game. They have three girls, Crosier, Allen and Kerr who are so good," said Higgins.
"We know that we will have to handle their pressure. They tend to go from full-court pressure into a 2-3 zone. We think we will have a chance to get shots over the zone, the key will be to make them."
Gibson Southern (22-4) v. Washington (22-4)
The first game will feature a match-up between the two best teams in the PAC, No. 10 Washington and No. 3 Gibson Southern. The Lady Titans went 12-0 in the conference, while WHS was 11-1.
The Titans took their Jan. 13 game with Washington, 62-42, however WHS did beat them 52-51 in the previous season. Of their four overall losses this year, they all came to quality opponents— Silver Creek, Evansville Memorial, Lawrence North and Castle. However, the regular-season loss to Memorial was rectified with a 57-55 win in the sectional semis.
Coach Kyle Brashear is now in his sixth year with Gibson Southern and has guided the team to three straight sectional titles and a berth in Semi-state last year.
Leading the Titans are guards Gabby Spink and Chloey Graham, getting 20 and 17 ppg. Paige Schnus is a 6-1" freshman and she is also getting around 9 ppg and six rebounds. She also leads the team with 21 blocks.
Spink also gets six assists a game and is second on the team rebounding. Nola Ravelette is also a 5-9" forward who contributes scoring and rebounding.
"Gibson Southern is a team with a lot of weapons. They have two players that are two of the top players in southern Indiana in Chloe Graham and Gabby Spink, but also have size inside and good perimeter shooting. They love to get out in transition and take no time to shoot the ball. We have to take care of the basketball, be aggressive on both ends of the floor, and control the boards. We are really excited to get the opportunity to play them again. They are a really good team who are well coached," said Miles.
The Hatchets come in with just four losses and even that few may be a little deceiving. They opened the season with losses to the top two teams in 2A (North and South Knox) and 20-5 Borden to start the 2-3. However, since then, the only "L" has come from Gibson Southern and have won 20 of their final 21. The only other really close game was a 55-51 OT win over Memorial.
Hatchet Katie Reed is a 6-1" sophomore but she has been an impact player for the last two year, getting 14 ppg and 6.3 board. She is also one of the teams better 3-point shooters and runs the floor really well, Reed is helped on the inside by Olivia Gilley, also nearly 6-foot, getting 6.6 ppg and second on the team in rebounding. Senior Hayleigh Cummins has also made an impact as a forward, but has guard skills with the ball. She is also getting more than 6 ppg.
Junior Kenna Garland is one of the team's top 3-point shooters and second in the scoring column with 9.7 points. She, Aubrey Frank and Shay Hawk make up a group that can score from anywhere and all three have an extremely high motor. Hawk and Frank combine for 15 points, and more than 15 points, six boards and six assists per game.
The Hatchet will play in the first game, beginning at 1 p.m. while B-R is slated to tipoff at 4 p.m. Tickets are available on EVENTLINK.