Central Catholic and Faith Christian took different routes to tonight’s Class A Rossville girls basketball title game.
The Knights (13-9), the seven-time sectional champions, used a 13-2 run midway through the third quarter to beat Tri-Central, 64-41, in the first semifinal Friday night.
Faith Christian (11-10), in its first girls basketball sectional since joining the IHSAA, trailed most of the game against Clinton Prairie but rallied for a 45-42 overtime win.
Tri-Central cut an early double-digit deficit to 35-31 with 4:16 left in the third period after a Cecelia Rayl jumper.
But the Knights, behind freshman Cameron Onken and junior Emily Denhart, finished the quarter with a 13-2 run that all but sealed the contest.
Denhart and senior Alanna Roswarski were hit with early foul trouble and had to miss a good portion of the first half.
“It was very difficult sitting after getting two early fouls,” said Denhart, who scored eight of her 14 points in the third quarter. “That was a killer. Alanna and I knew we had to go back in, step up and do our part to help the team score. Winning eight sectionals is a little nerve-wracking, but now I think it’s in reach.”
Hadley DeWeese scored eight points in the first quarter, including a putback with two seconds left to give the Trojans a 14-12 lead. DeWeese and Rayl finished with 13 points each.
“I think we probably ran out of steam tonight a little,” Tri-Central coach Kyle Stage said. “We tore it up early, but then it started to take its toll, which is what a press is supposed to do. We were able to put a little scare into them, and that’s what we wanted to do, keep it close and see what happens.”
Onken scored 15 points as Central Catholic took a 31-22 lead into halftime. She finished with a game-high 17 points.
“I told the girls before the game that Tri-Central would be ready for us and we couldn’t walk on the court expecting to win,” Knights coach Craig DeVault said. “Tri-Central hit some shots against us, but we kept fighting on the defensive end, and defense won this game for us tonight.”
Faith Christian just wouldn’t go away after Clinton Prairie built seven-point leads in the first half. Sierra Wilson’s layup tied the game at 38, and it remained tied until Clinton Prairie freshman Madison Douglas scored with less than three minutes to play. She led all scorers with 16 points.
Whitni Borgman knocked down a short jumper at the 2:18 mark, tying the score again and both teams failed the score over the last two minutes.
In overtime, senior Kelsey Dunham hit a 12-footer to give Clinton Prairie a 42-40 lead. The play of the game came after Faith’s Serena Quesada stole a Gopher inbound pass and made a layup while being fouled with 56 seconds left to play. Quesada converted the free throw to give the Eagles a one-point lead.
“We work really hard on our inbounds defense, and we went over pretty good what we had to do in that situation,” Faith coach Lynn Heusinger said. “In the timeout before, the girls knew that we had to get the ball or the clock would just run out on us.”
After Faith senior Svea Nelson blocked Clinton Prairie’s next shot attempt, the Gophers were forced to foul. Martha Toyra, who led the Eagles with 11 points, hit two free throws with seven seconds left.