GBB 4A SECT. 8: #10 Westfield dumps #7 HSE, 37-35, for title
February 11, 2013Hoosier Authority
By Scott Hunt
National Sports Journalism Center Intern
WESTFIELD – Kayla Brown glanced down at the piece of Class 4A Westfield Sectional net in her hand and looked back up with a smile that not only showed elation but also a hint of disbelief.
Just moments before the 6’2” Westfield junior guard was able to tear at that net, Brown calmly drained a pair of free throws with six seconds to play to lift the 10th-ranked Shamrocks to a 37-35 upset over Hoosier Crossroads Conference rival No. 7 Hamilton Southeastern for the Sectional 8 championship.
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The impetus for Brown’s elation was obvious. The disbelief may have come from the fact it was only Westfield’s second win over HSE in 15 games over the past 10 years. The Royals had given the Shamrocks (21-2) one of their two losses, 46-40, back on Nov. 12 in the teams’ regular-season meeting.
“It’s such a fulfilling feeling … I can’t even describe what I’m feeling right now,” Brown said. “We started out a little bit rattled, but then we calmed down later in the first half and put things together.”
Westfield went more than four minutes at the start of the game without a point before Brown ended the drought. She ended up scoring all nine of her team’s first-quarter points as the Shamrocks built a 9-3 lead.
Yet Brown would not score again until she made her game-winning free throws to finish with 11 points.
“She’s been big all year, and big players step up in big games,” said fifth-year Westfield coach Shane Sumpter. “She had a tremendous first half, then Jenn (Anderson) really got it going in the second half and we had some other players hit some big shots down the stretch.
“It was a total team effort.”
At 6-foot-3, Anderson faced constant double- and triple teams in the post and scored only four points in the first half. But Westfield kept pounding the ball inside, and the senior responded with eight of her team-high 14 points in the third quarter.
Anderson also grabbed nine rebounds in just missing a double-double.
“I’ve got to give it all to my teammates,” Anderson said. “At halftime I looked down on myself, and they’re like, ‘Jenn, we need you!’
“I came out in the third quarter and started making my post moves and got going strong. That’s what I have to do for this team to be successful, and we’re cutting down nets.”
After playing to a 16-16 halftime tie, Westfield and HSE swapped leads eight times in the third quarter before Anderson’s deuce put the Shamrocks up 26-25 entering the fourth.
Seniors Terese Wade and Amy Shedd then scored their only points of the game by draining 3-pointers to start the fourth quarter. Westfield matched its largest lead at 35-29 on a free throw by freshman Maddy Grennes with five minutes to play.
But 6’1” senior Jessica Pongonis’ field goal – part of a game-high 17 points – started a Royals’ rally with 4:39 to play.
Senior Taya Reimer – the Notre Dame recruit limited by Westfield to only eight points – added a pair of free throws before knotting the game up at 35 with a bucket with 10 seconds to play.
After Brown’s free throws, HSE had a chance to tie or win. But the ball was poked away before a shot was attempted and ended up in Anderson’s hands to seal the Shamrocks’ Feb. 16 trip to the Kokomo Regional and a semifinal matchup with No. 11 Fort Wayne South.
The winner will face either fourth-ranked Logansport or No. 16 Fort Wayne Snider in the finals with a northern semistate berth in the balance.
“I knew it was going to be this kind of game,” Sumpter said. “It was just who had the ball last.
“We hit a couple of free throws, and we got a stop. The ball was loose on the floor, and I was just hoping the horn would go off.”
Anderson echoed Sumpter’s sentiment that Westfield’s win was a total team effort.
“In shootaround (Saturday) morning, we said we’re not going to win unless we’re a team,” Anderson said. “One of our assistant coaches said, ‘You can’t win if you’re just a hand, but if you’re a fist you’re much stronger.’
“We went out tonight thinking we were a fist and we couldn’t get beat.”
8. Westfield Sectional
Game 1: Noblesville 61, Zionsville 42
Game 2: #10 Westfield 61, North Central (Indianapolis) 44
Game 3: Carmel 60, Fishers 49
Game 4: #7 Hamilton Southeastern 56, Noblesville 50
Game 5: #10 Westfield 47, Carmel 24
Championship: #10 Westfield 37, #7 Hamilton Southeastern 35