Kerstyn Lowery, Gabby Gary and McCutcheon’s band of seven seniors will get to play basketball for another weekend.
The Mavericks avenged an earlier loss to Marion, thumping the Giants 55-41 Saturday night to capture the Class 4A sectional at Resler Gymnasium.
The victory gives McCutcheon (17-8) its first sectional title since the 2011-12 season. It will now travel to the Kokomo Regional next weekend. Marion, which beat McCutcheon 42-39 in Resler Gymnasium last month, finishes its season 16-9.
“It feels great to be a senior to win sectionals knowing it’s not our last game,” said Lowery, who was the catalyst for the victory with 25 points. “In regionals, we just have to go into that like we did tonight with more intensity and attack the basket.”
Marion never figured out how to stop Lowery, who repeatedly darted around the Giants guards into the lane for either layups or pinpoint passes to teammates like Gary (13 points) who spotted up for 3-point shots for mid-range jumpers.
“They were just playing really tough defense, so I just ripped the ball and took it to the hoop if they continued playing me I would dish it off to someone else,” Lowery said. “I was just trying to take advantage of the way they were playing and trying to get some fouls.”
The backbreaker came in the third quarter with Marion threatening to overtake McCutcheon, trailing 21-19. With the Giants defense deciding to back off Lowery in hopes to contain her penetration, the guard popped in a 3-pointer from the left side of the arch give the Mavericks a four-point lead.
The next time down the court, Lowery caught the Giants guard getting closer again and drove the lane for a layup and foul. She converted the three-point play at the free throw line to stretch the Mavericks’ lead to eight points in a matter of 30 seconds.
“That’s Kerstyn’s game — attack mode,” McCutcheon coach Jeff Knoy said. “That’s her specialty. We told her that we needed her to stay in attack mode and then she had that monster 3-pointer for us in the third quarter for us that really helped.”
Marion coach Jerry Freshwater said his squad did not put up the same defensive effort as it did this week in its two sectional victories against Kokomo and Logansport, but he tipped his hat to Lowery and McCutcheon for taken advantage of it.
“We reached, they went right around us,” Freshwater said. “We still have to get down and defend and we didn’t do what we did the first two nights on Tuesday and Friday. They’re a good team and a well-coached team and she’s going to take what we give her. When we started reaching she either drove or found someone else for a layup.”
Marion’s Vironnica Drake, who bounced back from an injury in the fourth quarter of the Kokomo game to start Saturday, led the Giants with 20 points, including five 3-pointers. McCutcheon was able to limit Marion forward Dejah Cyrus to eight points. Cyrus had scored in double figures in both of Marion’s sectional wins and hurt McCutcheon in the first meeting between the two teams.
“I think we came in with a little bit of a chip on our shoulder,” Knoy said. “We thought we were better than them the last time but this time we executed very well. Claire (Weideman) did a good job on (Cyrus), I thought, in taking her out of the game offensively.”