Walnut Grove girls cruise in Class 1 championship game

Walnut Grove girls cruise in Class 1 championship game

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Walnut Grove girls cruise in Class 1 championship game

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COLUMBIA

Early in the day Thursday, Chadwick’s Maddie Hursh could not shake an illness.

Later on — and in part because of the illness — she couldn’t shake Walnut Grove’s Lexi Harman.

Harman, a junior guard for the Lady Tigers, would not let the state’s all-time single-season 3-point shooter loose in their Class 1 state semifinal game at the Hearnes Center on the campus of the University of Missouri.

And without any production from their leading scorer, Chadwick was in for a long night.

Harman made Chadwick’s semifinal experience difficult with her defense and her third cousin, Heather, made things tough for Chadwick with her offense in a 66-42 victory.

Hursh, who has made 146 3-pointers this season, was getting treatment Thursday for an illness, and officially attempted one shot, a made layup with three minutes left in the third quarter.

She unofficially attempted another, a 3-pointer which was blocked by Lexi Harman.

“I knew that I needed to help my team out and that’s what I needed to do is to stay on her and not let her get any shots off,” Harman said. “That’s what I tried to do is not help off her, which is hard because I usually like helping.”

The win sends the Lady Tigers (29-2) into Saturday’s 8:40 p.m. final at Mizzou Arena where they will play Chamois.

Heather Harman, Walnut Grove’s all-state junior, scored 11 points in the first quarter as the Lady Tigers took command. Her start included a hard fall on a drive where she made the basket on her way to the floor.

She then added consecutive deep 3-pointers as the Lady Tigers started to cruise.

“We expect that night-in and night-out from her,” Walnut Grove coach Rory Henry said. “She gets us going offensively, and really gets people involved and hitting big shots. She just set the tone early.”

Heather Harman finished with a game-high 19 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

Walnut Grove made 17 of its 26 shots (65 percent) in the first half, including 6 of 10 (60 percent) from 3-point range to take a 45-22 lead.

Chadwick (25-5) did close the lead to less than 20 points with a 6-0 run in the third quarter to make it 48-30.

However, Madisyn Freeze knocked down a long 3-pointer to stretch the lead to 21, and it would stay over 20 the rest of the game.

In the game’s closing moments, Henry even slipped junior Megan Shuler in the game to shoot a few 3-pointers. Shuler, who has missed the season with a knee injury, missed her three chances.

The rest of the Tigers were 10 for 22 (45 percent) from 3-point range.

“There’s a reason they’re ranked No. 1 in the state,” said Chadwick coach Darin Meinders, who coached Walnut Grove to a 2007 state championship. “We needed to play one of our best games, and they needed to be off.”

Hailey Stevens scored 12 points for Chadwick, which plays Mercer in an 8:20 p.m. consolation game today.

Walnut Grove, now on a 16-game winning streak, will try to avenge last season’s one-point loss in the state final.

“I’ll take my kids against anybody right now,” Henry said. “Any time I’ve got these kids lined up with me, I’ll take my chances.”

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