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  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Leo's Brooke Smith goes up to defend a shot by Concordia's Elizabeth Hetler during the third quarter of Friday's Class 3A Bishop Dwenger Sectional semifinal.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette From left: Concordia's Elizabeth Hetler, Leo's Ashley Miller, and Leo's Brooke Smith fight for the ball during the second quarter of the Girls' Basketball Sectional at Bishop Dwenger on Friday.

Saturday, February 03, 2018 1:00 am

Girls basketball Sectionals

Concordia, Angola reach Dwenger final

Cadets going for 2nd straight title

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The matchup for today's Class 3A Bishop Dwenger girls sectional final is set. Both Angola and Concordia won semifinal games Friday night, but the two teams earned their spots in the title game in vastly different ways.

Concordia beat Leo 43-23 in the first game behind 26 points from Northern Kentucky-bound junior Carissa Garcia and stifling second-half defense.

Angola played its way into the final with a team effort on defense, frustrating Butler recruit Ellen Ross with a full-court press and shooting a whopping 46 free throws en route to a 57-53 win over the host Saints.

“We've been talking all week about attacking these SAC schools,” Angola coach Brandon Appleton said. “We've been putting pads on them and beating our girls as hard as we can (in practice), knowing how physical it is down here. The girls answered the call.”

Concordia-Leo was deadlocked at halftime, and Leo scored the first four points of the second half to take a 21-17 lead. After that, however, Garcia took command. The 5-foot-7 guard hit a layup to cut the margin in half, and two possessions later got a twisting layup in transition to fall with a foul. She pumped her fist as the referee blew the whistle.

“I just think it was a big moment,” she said of the latter basket, which gave her team a lead it did not relinquish. “I think at that point we were like, 'We got this.' Just keep our intensity going, keep our energy up, we'll do this. It was a good feeling.”

The Cadets eventually scored 22 consecutive points, turning a slim deficit into an 18-point lead. Garcia scored 17 of those points, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter from about 25 feet out.

“She just won't give up,” Concordia coach Dave Miller said of Garcia. “She just battles. It's very contagious, everyone else picks up on that and it really helps us.”

In the second game, Angola applied its pressure defense from the opening tip and made a special effort to contain Ross. The senior forward scored just two points in the first three quarters as her team fell behind 43-27.

“We made her earn everything she got,” Appleton said of Ross. “She's a heck of a player, she's a great scorer for them, a great defensive player, a great rebounder. You see how little we are, it's all we can do to just make it hard on her. We had a game plan and the girls executed it.”

Ross finally got going in the fourth quarter, helping Bishop Dwenger climb back into the game. A 7-0 run featuring two baskets from Ross inside sliced the Angola lead to just four midway through the fourth quarter. With four minutes left, though, Ross picked up her fifth foul, and Angola made enough free throws down the stretch to hold on for a win.

Now the Hornets must go through a Concordia team that is looking for its fourth straight sectional title. Garcia said her team will be prepared to play.

“Just watch some film, shoot around and walk through,” she said of the team's plans for today. “We'll be ready.”

Appleton was succinct when asked for his thoughts on the Cadets.

“Somebody tell me how to stop Garcia,” he said, laughing.

dsinn@jg.net