Warrior girls beat Pioneers for title, 41-35
Posted: February 15, 2013
WINCHESTER — With Millbrook coming out in a box-and-one on Sherando freshman guard and leading-scorer Lauren Reed, it was clear the Pioneers wanted to try to put the game in the other Warrior players’ hands.
The Pioneers shut down Reed, but sophomore guards Dani Rizzari and Jessica Hakel stepped up and knocked down the clutch baskets, leading Sherando’s 41-35 win over Millbrook in the Northwestern District Girls’ Basketball Tournament championship game at Handley’s Maddex-Omps Gymnasium Thursday night.
Rizzari scored 15 points and Hakel added 14 to help the Warriors finish as the regular season co-district champion and district tournament champion for the first time since 1997.
“The kids stayed with our concepts and schemes and kept working hard and here we are taking both titles,” said Reed, whose team will be the No. 2 seed in the Region II, Division 4 tournament and host a quarterfinal game on Tuesday. “It means a lot obviously to sweep them [in the tiebreaker game and tourney title game] and there’s nobody that we would have rather played and done it against than Millbrook.”
The Warriors (14-10) never trailed after taking an 11-8 lead at the end of the first quarter despite Lauren Reed going 0 for 6 from the field and being held scoreless for the first 26 minutes. She finished with just six points (going 6 for 6 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter).
Millbrook (19-4) made a run midway through the fourth to cut Sherando’s lead to six.
Casey Ackerman hit a 3-pointer, Brooke Borlie added a layup and then Ackerman capped the 7-0 run with two free throws to trim the Warriors’ lead to 36-30 with 3:31 left.
From there, however, Sherando controlled the tempo like it did throughout the contest, running more than a minute off the clock before the Pioneers sent Hakel to the line with 1:52 left. Hakel missed both shots, but Sherando sophomore Heidi Brown (three points, nine rebounds and four blocks) grabbed the rebound and Millbrook’s Ashley Goodman picked up her fifth personal when she was forced to foul Magalis with 1:46 left.
Magalis hit both free throws to push Sherando’s lead to 38-30.
Millbrook missed on its next two trips on the offensive end. Ackerman missed a 3-pointer with 1:20 left, and then Brown blocked Ky Rook’s shot with 50 seconds left.
Sherando closed it out from there, going 3 for 4 from the free-throw line in the final 25 seconds to seal the victory.
Reed said Millbrook packed in the box-and-one around Lauren Reed so he told his guards to be patient with his team ahead in the fourth quarter.
“They didn’t want to extend their defense and they were content to sit back in the box-and-one and play that style of game,” Reed said. “Our other kids can play basketball and we had the lead so why would we rush in and play [Millbrook’s] style of game? Our guards were outstanding. They can dribble, they can shoot and they’ve got good vision so we’re not going to play [their] game — come play our game.”
And with Millbrook focusing much of its defensive attention on Lauren Reed, Rizzari and Hakel carried Sherando’s offense through three quarters.
After combining for 16 of the Warriors’ 19 first-half points, Hakel and Rizzari scored 10 of the team’s 11 points in the third quarter as Sherando stretched its lead to 30-19 heading into the fourth. Rizzari and Hakel scored 26 of Sherando’s 30 points through three quarters.
“We came out strong and we played together and just played as a team,” said Hakel, who had three 3-pointers and tied for a team-high with nine rebounds. “We covered the floor and covered for each other and just played really hard tonight.
“My teammates helped set me up and that’s what gave [me] those points. They always do a good job of finding the open person.”
With Reed getting so much attention from Millbrook’s defense, Rizzari said that opened things up for her on the opposite side of the court.
“Lauren had a big impact on it too — leaving the backside open for us,” said Rizzari, who had a team-high five assists. “I thought we played really well as a team on the offensive and defensive end.”
Teamwork was something Kevin Reed stressed about the Warriors’ performance (and their starting five — Reed, Brown, Rizzari, Hakel and defensive stopper Erin Magalis — played all 32 minutes).
“Everbody thinks that this team was built on Lauren, and early on we struggled to find other kids to step up and find the confidence, but as the season progressed you could see the other kids start to grow and materialize,” Reed said. “What a great way to do it [here in the final].
“... We overloaded one side with the box-and-one and they wanted to play 4-on-4. Guess what? We played 2-on-2 on the back side and our two [Rizzari and Hakel] did a number on them.”
Sherando’s defense (featured three different sets with man, a zone with different traps and a box-and-one at times) made it difficult on Millbrook throughout, limiting the Pioneers to single digits in each of the first three quarters. Millbrook shot just 4 of 23 (17 percent) from the field in the opening quarter and connected on just four field goals in the first half as the Warriors led 19-14 at the break.
“I was a little bit taken back by the missed opportunities inside,” Millbrook coach Debby Sanders said. “That’s just unacceptable. We just didn’t execute on the offensive end like we need to execute and that’s disappointing.”
Borlie led the Pioneers with 12 points, and Brenna Cook added eight.
Although Sanders said she liked her team’s intensity throughout the contest, she said her team struggled to get much going offensively.
“I thought we hustled everywhere and put forth the effort,” Sanders said. “We just can’t get shots to fall and we’re not even looking to get good looks — or working to get good looks and that’s what bothers me the most.
“But you know what I’m proud of this group. We’re 19-4 and there is no shame in that and that’s to be commended. Here were are back in regionals for a sixth-straight year. We’re a high seed (No. 4) and considering what these kids have done with their work ethic and conditioning since August — it’s just to be commended.”
The Pioneers will be the No. 4 seed in the Region II Division 4 playoffs and host a quarterfinal game Tuesday night.
— Contact Robert Stocks at firstname.lastname@example.org
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