EDGINGTON -- Having already beaten Sherrard once on its home floor, the Rockridge girls' basketball team looked primed for another opportunity to get the better of its West Central North rival.|
Up by as much as nine points in the first half against No. 2 Orion and holding a seven-point halftime lead Tuesday, the third-seeded Rockets couldn't overcome a frigid shooting performance. Their hopes of playing for a Class 2A regional title at home were dashed with Orion posting a 49-41 victory.
Orion (19-9) will get a third shot Thursday night at the top-seeded, WCC North champion Tigers (25-3), who rolled to a 62-35 victory over Biggsville West Central in the first of Tuesday's two semifinal games. The Chargers dropped both conference games to Sherrard by a combined 14 points.
"We came out in the first half and did some nice things offensively and defensively, and got into a rhythm,'' said Rockridge coach Shawn Strachan, whose team bows out at 12-17. "The second half, we just couldn't get a basket to push us forward, we couldn't get into our full-court press, and Orion got some easy buckets.''
Sparked by the play of senior guard Destiny Grawe (13 points, six steals, five rebounds), the Rockets stretched an 8-7 lead after the first quarter to 13-7, with a Cheyenne Bowman 3-pointer capping a 7-0 run.
After Orion closed the gap to 15-13, it missed several close shots inside and Rockridge capitalized, going up 22-13 before Charger sophomore Katie Conway's bucket with two seconds gave her team some momentum.
"That was a big bucket, taking us from nine to seven,'' said Orion coach John McBride. "We just came out flat. A lot of it was that Rockridge played Monday (beating Mercer County 56-32) and we didn't; that made a difference. Shawn always has his kids prepared, and when you play four times against a good coach, you're not going to do a lot of new things.''
Helping to ignite the Chargers' second-hald turnaround was sophomore guard Abby DeBaillie. With senior post standout Cassidy Clark held to eight points and six rebounds, DeBaillie stepped up her game in the third quarter. Scoring eight of her game-high 14 points in that stretch, she helped Orion reel off a 14-0 run that led to a 36-30 lead after three and a 43-30 advantage early in the fourth.
Katie Garrity powered her way to a double-double of 13 points and 16 rebounds for the Chargers, with teammate Baillie McCunn adding 12 boards and seven points. For Rockridge, Miranda Potter added eight points and Michaela Stoneking 10 boards and six steals.
Sherrard 62, West Central 35:The Tigers took it to the Heat (15-12) right from the outset. Forwards Riley Strandgard and Annie Winston were a combined 5-for-5 from the field and scored all but four of their team's first-quarter points as Sherrard grabbed an 18-6 lead, then extended it to 32-14 by halftime.
Strandgard posted a game-high 19 points, missing just one of her seven shots and one of her eight free-throw attempts. Winston followed with 14 points and six rebounds, with Shelby Calderone adding eight points and seven boards.
"That's what we talked about all week, coming out strong and playing with everything we've got,'' said Strandgard. "When we come out hard and get a lead, that's easier for us to lean on, and to be able to push that lead higher makes us feel better.''
Sherrard will turn its attention to Thursday's 7:30 p.m. championship game as it aims for its third straight regional championship.
"Getting off to such a fast start relaxed us a bit,'' said Sherrard coach Doug Swanson, "but then we got back into our game plan.''
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