Missing was a girls basketball postseason trophy. That, however, has changed.
Providence hit 10 3-pointers, forced 19 turnovers and cruised past Crawford County 66-44 on Saturday night in the finals of the Class 2-A Paoli sectional.
The Pioneers (20-5), first-time sectional winners, now will face North Knox (18-8) in Saturday’s Paoli regional at noon.
“This was the vision for the program that we set seven years ago,” Providence coach Brad Burden said. “Success is so rampant at Providence, we’re just so glad we’re a part of it.”
When Burden took over seven years ago, the Pioneers won just eight games in the previous three seasons combined.
“It feels great,” Burden. “I’m so happy for the kids because they put in all the hard work.”
At the beginning of the year, Burden said he thought he had the talent to win the sectional.
“I thought we could win the sectional this year,” he said. “I didn’t think we could win 20 games. But I knew this group was awfully talented.”
Sara Gryboski, one of just three seniors, said she is amazed by the turnaround since her freshman year.
“Look where we are now,” Gryboski said. “It’s an amazing feeling. … It’s amazing to see these girls bond.”
Providence led 23-17 midway through the second quarter and then finished the quarter with an 11-2 run. During most of the run, the Pioneers were playing without leading scorers Claire Rauck and Hannah Wolford as the Wolfpack couldn’t solve Providence’s full-court pressure. Wolford and Rauck were on the bench with two fouls each.
“We all just stepped up and got it done,” said Michaela Hoke, who was on the floor late in the second quarter.
“We had a couple of seniors on the floor with me,” Marissa Hornung said. “It’s nice to have Hannah (Wolford) and Claire (Rauck) on the floor but we have other players. We just took control right there and pulled away.”
With the run, Providence led 34-19 at the half.
“We’re not a one-trick pony or a two-trick pony,” Burden said. “We have lots of weapons. To win in the postseason, you’ve got to have that.”
In the third quarter, Rauck, a sophomore who led Providence with 25 points, hit three from beyond the arc, as the Pioneers’ lead grew to 55-31 by the end of the quarter.
“I thought we could do it this year,” Rauck said of the title. “I thought our youth may give us problems. But our freshman came out and played outstanding. We’re so young but we have a lot of firepower.”
The Pioneers hit 10 3-pointers and Rauck had five of those.
“When we shoot the ball like that, we’re tough to beat,” Burden said.
“Whenever they zoned us, we have confidence in our shooting,” Rauck said. “I think a lot more will go in if you think you’re going to make it.”
Hornung, a freshman who played on Providence’s state championship volleyball team, added 15 points and five assists.
Hornung said the team really wanted to get the regional title for the three seniors.
“We are so close to the seniors,” she said. “They’re our sisters and we really don’t want to see them go.”
Tylynn Allen led Crawford County with 14 points.
Providence (20-5) – Brooks 7, Hoke 5, Hayden 2, Hornung 15, Wolford 5, Rauck 25, Libs 2, Gryboski 5.
Crawford County (8-16) – Sauer 8, T. Allen 14, C. Allen 3, Jellison 2, Grizzel 2, Puckett 6, Smith 7, Cook 2.
3-point goals – Hoke 1, Hornung 2, Wolford 1, Rauck 5, Gryboski 1, C.Allen 1, Smith 1.