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Oak Hill dominates Tipton for regional title, 56-36

BY KEVIN HELFRICH - ctreporter@indystar.rr.com

GREENTOWN – Determined not to have their postseason road end where it did a year ago, the veteran Oak Hill girls’ basketball team took control in the Class 2A Eastern Regional championship early on.

Oak Hill used a dead-eye shooting performance and dominating defense to claim the programs fifth regional title with a 56–36 victory over 9th ranked Tipton on Saturday evening.

“We’ve had a poster size picture of that scoreboard from last year hanging in our locker room.” Law commented of the 68-68 loss to Frankton a year ago. “Tonight I took it down and put it right in front of them where they would see it when they walked in.”

Senior Jenessa Hasty and junior Taylor Westgate got things going for Oak Hill as the two combined for a perfect 8-for-8 from the floor in the opening half.

“We came out and all just worked together.” Westgate said. “I’m so glad Janessa came back and she just helps us out a lot.”

The Golden Eagles closed the beginning quarter with a 10-2 run to enjoy a double-digit cushion at 19-8 sending their large fan contingency into a frenzy.

Hasty started the spurt with a drive down the middle of the lane and guard Brittany McCorkle finished it hitting two of three free throws after being fouled on an off balance running 3-point attempt with 1.3 seconds remaing.

Oak Hill’s length on defense gave Tipton problems especially one of the states leading scorers in Cassidy Crawford who only connected on 1 of her 5 first half attempts. She managed to score five points, but the Golden Eagles extended the lead to 15 on a couple of occasions in the half, including Adrianna Trexler’s off balance shot in lane for a 30-15 halftime advantage.

Westgate, who poured in a game-high 24 points, recorded a double-double when she grabbed down 10 rebounds. She single-handedly put the game away by start the second half when she scored the Golden Eagles first 12 points. Tipton could never draw closer then 14 points in the final quarter (46-32) and that came with less than three minutes to play.

“I thought we came out tonight with a more attack mentality,” Law said. “Our length and then our guards did a nice job keeping pressure on the ball what else can you say about our defense.”

Hasty joined her in double figures with 12 points in one of her more complete games of the year.

“When we were in the huddle before the game we said this wasn’t going to be out last game,” Hasty added. “It’s really important for us seniors to go out the right way.”

Tipton, became the 21st opponent to be held to 36 points or less by the states best defensive team. Oak Hill knocked down 18-of-33 shots and 20 of 24 from the free throw line.

The Golden Eagles also held one of the areas leading scorers Cassidy Crawford to just 10 points, well below her season average.

Oak Hill (23-3) earned the programs fifth trip to the Final Four since 2007 and will head into next weekends northern semistate title game with an eight game win streak as they take on top-ranked Central Noble (27-0).

Semifinal

Oak Hill 37, Lafayette Cent. Catholic 26

True to their identity, defense paved the way for the Oak Hill girls’ basketball team to reach a third consecutive regional final.

On an afternoon where the 3rd-ranked Golden Eagles were uncharacteristically careless with the ball, they were able to limit the 3-point shooting of 11th-ranked Lafayette Central Catholic to just 4-for-23 to persevere with a 37-26 victory in the second semifinal game of the Class 2A Eastern Regional.

“Our defense and rebounding helped us survive,” said Oak Hill coach Todd Law, who was frustrated with the performance. “We were pretty inept in every other area.”

Neither team could find any rhythm early on as frigid shooting and turnovers kept the game scoreless until the four minute mark of the opening quarter. Kaylyn Cherry provided the Knights with the first two points of the game when she scored from inside the lane.

By the end of the quarter, the Golden Eagles had turned the ball over (5) more times than it had scored (4). Fortunately, a late basket from senior Kaela Robey gave Oak Hill its first lead at 4-3 and one they would never give up.

Six more second quarter Golden Eagle turnovers prevented them from getting much separation from the Knights. A pair of free throws by junior Taylor Westgate before the halftime break helped Oak Hill nurse a 13-8 advantage.

LCC used a combination of box and diamond in one on second leading scorer Adrianna Trexler while double teaming leading scorer Taylor Westgate that seemed to really effect the Golden Eagles movement. Trexler didn’t even attempt a first half shot from the field or the free throw line. Meanwhile, Westgate could only muster up three shot attempts and two free throws.

“We’ve seen some junk defenses throughout the year,” an unsurprised Law said. “We just didn’t react to that too well. We had no patience, so we didn’t get any reversals to open things up inside.”

Managing just hold the Golden Eagles to 11 first half shot attempts, became a statline that equaled the turnovers the Knights were able to force.

“These girls have executed our defensive schemes every game,” said LCC coach Craig DeVault. “We knew we had to double Westgate and keep Trexler from touching the basketball.”

An 8-0 burst ignited by a baseline jumper from Janessa Hasty and finished with a Marissa Wilk lay in off he glass gave the Oak Hill its first double-digit margin (21-10) with 3:13 left in the third stanza. Later in the quarter, a pair or Robey free throws provided the largest cushion at 26-12.

Over a three-minute stretch to end the third quarter and start the fourth, LCC finally found the range from behind the arc. Lexi Thompson, Halle Blumling and Caroline Lutz all connected on 3-pointers to help trim the deficit to just 28-24 with 5:43 remaining.

“We rely on the 3-point shot a lot,” DeVault admitted. “We usually shoot it very well, but today was just one of those days where we didn’t make enough.”

Thompson, who came in averaging over 15 points was limited to just 6.

Timely rebound baskets from Trexler and Westgate pushed the lead back up to 34-26 with 2:09 remaining.

“That really hurt us,” said DeVault whose team was outrebounded 34-18. “We just didn’t block out and just got caught up in the moment.”

Robey, secured the win, hitting three free throws in the final minute. She scored a game-high 13 points and her second half aggressiveness led her to the line 10 times, converting on 9. Oak Hill outscored the Knights 14-4 from the charity stripe, virtually the difference in the game.

“Everybody is going to have their day,” a relieved Robey said. “That is kind of our thing. I knew my free throws were big.”

Westgate was also instrumental for the Golden Eagles, finishing with 10 points and seven rebounds and a critical defensive steal late.

Karlyn Cherry topped LCC with 8 points.

In the opening game, Tipton squandered a 15 point fourth quarter advantage, but survived in overtime, 66-63.

Cassidy Crawford led the way with 23 points.

Oak Hill finished the game 11-for-27 from the floor, while committing 19 turnovers.