TOP-RANKED NORTHWESTERN CLAIMS SECOND CONSECUTIVE REGIONAL CROWN AND A BERTH IN CLASS 3A FINAL FOUR

Northwestern junior Kendall Bostic sets a screen during as the Lady Tigers won its second consecutive regional championship. (SJ photo/William Gibson)

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

RENSSELAER, Ind. – For 16 minutes Saturday, Northwestern looked mortal. But for the other 48 minutes of game action at the Rensselaer Central Girls Basketball Regional, the defending Class 3A state champions were a dominant force as the squad captured its second consecutive regional title and a berth in the Final Four.

For top-ranked Northwestern, mortality in tournament play meant a pair of first quarters in which the score was close. In its 67-34 semifinal win over Gary West, the Lady Tigers were tied 14-14 after the first eight minutes before going on a 53-20 run to end the game. In its championship game win over No. 5 Mishawaka Marian, Northwestern led 9-6 after one quarter before pulling away for an easy 18-point win.

“This is exciting,” said Northwestern head coach Kathie Layden of the regional title. “This was a very physical game – it was a good win.”

In the title bout, a rematch of last year’s regional semifinal, Northwestern (25-3) was ready for the physical play of Marian. But an early injury brought a hush over the crowd as Lady Tiger starting forward Sarah Heaver dropped to the floor in front of the Northwestern bench, grabbing her right knee. Trainers tended to her and eventually helped her off the floor and to an adjoining training room.

Junior Kendall Bostic admitted that it shook the team and took a few minutes to get back into the flow after watching a teammate leave the court.

“Yeah, (that injury) took us back for a second,” she said. “We saw her fall and kind of knew by the way she was holding her knee (that it was serious). It just took us a minute to get back into it.”

“Sarah is a tough kid,” added Layden. “When she went down, I knew it was not going to be good. We will hope for the best.”

But once they got back on track, the Lady Tigers took control – much like they have done in every tournament game in the last two seasons. After Marian’s leading scorer Makayla Weaver picked up her third foul early in the second quarter, Klair Merrell grabbed a steal, which resulted in a Bostic score. Then Merrell found Madison Layden on a back-door pass – and before Marian knew what hit them, the 9-6 score was 17-8, and then 22-14 going into halftime, with momentum clearly on the side of the Tigers.

The second half started much like the first ended – Bostic hit two quick buckets, Ellie Boyer scored and Layden had a brilliant wrap-around pass to Bostic to increase the lead to 32-14 with 11 minutes of play left. From there, it was cruise control and a second consecutive trip to the Final Four.

“We were a little tired tonight. But we started to get our heads into the game in the second half,” said Bostic. “We pushed ourselves more.”

Bostic finished with 16 points, including 12 in the decisive middle quarters. Northwestern was led by the 22 points of Layden, who put the game away with eight fourth quarter points. Merrell added five points and Boyer four as only four Lady Tigers found the scoring column.

“It is awesome to be able to win these; very cool,” said Madison Layden, who was the Sports Journal/Coca-Coca Bottling of Kokomo Player of the Game after both games. “I hate to lose; I will do anything it takes to win. Our family is very competitive.”

For Marian (22-4), Mikiya Roby had 11 points to lead the way.

Northwestern advances to its second consecutive Logansport Semi-State, where it will face No. 11 Marion (23-4) at 7 p.m. in the Berry Bowl. The South Semi-State in Jasper features No. 2 Salem (24-3) against No. 7 Benton Central (25-4) at 6:30 p.m.

Northwestern 67, Gary West 34

In the Lady Tigers win over Gary West, the two squads were knotted at 16 early in the second quarter – mostly due to the play of Dash Shaw. The 5-foot-6 junior guard for Gary West cut through the Lady Tigers defense and scored the first 12 points for the Cougars. Something that did not surprise Layden.

“She is a tough player,” said the Northwestern coach. “She is quick, has outside ability, and then gets to the rim. We knew we would have our hands full, but at the same time, we prepared for her. We knew we would have to shut her down, and we did a better job as the game went along. She is a phenomenal player – I am so impressed with her game.”

Northwestern stuck to its game plan, adjusted to the play on the court, and shut down Shaw for most of the second (no points) and third quarters (five points). With Shaw out of the scoring equation, Gary West could not find a replacement. By the end of the game, Shaw had 21 points while the rest of the team managed just 13.

Meanwhile, the offense for Northwestern heated up. Layden, the program’s all-time leading scorer, dropped in 31 points to eclipse the 1,500-point mark. Bostic had a great all-around game with 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Katie Neher added eight points.

“My teammates were getting open, and we will do anything we need to do to win,” said Bostic, who is also a member of the 1,000 Point Club. “My passing was what I needed to do in that game.”

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THREE-PEAT: NORTHWESTERN WINS THIRD CONSECUTIVE GIRLS BASKETBALL SECTIONAL TITLE

THREE-PEAT: Northwestern won a Class 3A girls sectional championship for a third consecutive year. (SJ photo/William Gibson)

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

FRANKFORT, Ind. – Before a much-improved Maconaquah Braves team knew what hit them, the Class 3A defending state champion and No. 1-ranked Northwestern Tigers led 27-0 with nearly two minutes left in the first quarter of the championship game of the Frankfort Girls Basketball Sectional. Playing in its first sectional championship game in 18 years, the Lady Braves witnessed first-hand what so many other teams have been victim too over the course of the last two seasons – when Northwestern is clicking on all cylinders, they are unstoppable.

Final score: Northwestern 80, Maconaquah 23. And it could have been much worse.

Between the floor vision of Madison Layden, the paint dominance of Kendall Bostic, the sharp shooting of Katie Neher and a stunning full court press on defense, Maconaquah struggled to get the ball past half-court in the first six minutes of the game. By the time the first quarter horn sounded, the Lady Braves had committed 15 turnovers and managed just seven shots on goal.

On the other end of the court, Bostic had 12 first quarter points on 6-of-7 shooting while Neher added eight, Layden seven and Sarah Heaver six for a 31-2 lead after eight minutes. Despite the lack of a full court press from Northwestern, the second quarter went much like the first as the Tigers built a 40-3 lead before heading into the halftime locker room up 50-8. From there, head coach Kathie Layden had her team work on staying sharp while getting playing time for the entire roster.

Leading 71-11 after three quarters, Northwestern cruised through the final eight minutes and hoisted its third consecutive Class 3A Sectional 20 championship trophy. Bostic finished with 26 points and nine rebounds, Neher had 17 points, Layden dropped in 13 points and Heaver added 10.

Maconaquah (11-13) was led by the 14 points from freshman Lilly Maple. The Lady Braves made huge strides after posting just three wins in the last two years, including a 1-21 campaign last season. In fact, a 53-43 win over Frankfort in the quarterfinals was its first sectional victory since downing Jay County in 2002.

Northwestern (23-3) advanced to the championship game after topping Hoosier Conference rival West Lafayette 70-33. Layden led the Lady Tigers with 29 points while Bostic had 22.

Next up for Northwestern is its third straight date in the Sweet Sixteen. The Lady Tigers will face Gary West Side (20-7) at approximately 1 p.m. in the second game of the Rensselaer Central Regional. Game one at 11 a.m. features No. 5 Mishawaka Marian (21-3) and Knox (21-4). The championship is slated for 8 p.m. Kokomo time.

Also at the Frankfort Sectional, Western (11-12) lost a semifinal game to Maconaquah 58-54. Clara Braswell scored 14 points to lead the Lady Panthers.

Class 4A Sectional 7 at Zionsville: The Kokomo Lady Wildkats season came to an end with a 67-28 loss to No. 16 Zionsville.  The Lady Kats trailed 22-0 before scoring its first points late in the first quarter. Senior Adria Hartley led Kokomo with 17 points while freshman Chloe McClain added 10.

The loss was the sixth-consecutive opening game loss for the Lady Kats in sectional play. Kokomo finished the season 3-20 after a 6-17 campaign last year. The 20 losses are a first for a Lady Kats squad and the three wins are the fewest since the very first team finished 2-4 in 1974-1975. Kokomo’s last girls basketball sectional title came in 2008.

Class 2A Sectional 39 at Madison-Grant: The Taylor Titans made No. 9 Tipton sweat for the first 30 minutes of the 32-minute sectional semifinal. After a rocky start, Lady Titan senior Taylor Boruff hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to tie the game at 11 after the first quarter. That ignited a Titans rally that saw the squad lead 34-19 at halftime.

The lead got as high as 17 (38-21) midway through the third period before the Lady Blue Devils, led by Cassidy Crawford, began showing why they are highly ranked. An 18-8 run cut the lead to 46-39 after three stanzas and a 19-4 run in the fourth put the game away, but not until the final 120-seconds of action.

Boruff finished with a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds and concluded her high school career with 1,023 career points. Kelsi Langley added 14 for Taylor. The Lady Titans finished 13-8 for its first winning season since 2010-11 and first for third-year head coach Tony Oliver.

Earlier in the tourney, the Lady Titans defeated Alexandria 70-52. Boruff, who transferred from Northwestern this season and is a High Point University recruit, had 29 points to lead the way while Langley had 21 and Emma Good added 16.

Eastern dropped a 36-34 contest to Eastbrook in the quarterfinals. McKenzie Cooper had 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Comets while Lexi James and Jeannie Crabtree each had 10.

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GIRLS BASKETBALL SECTIONAL: SCHEDULES AND RESULTS FOR HOWARD/TIPTON COUNTY TEAMS

The following are the pairings and results for Howard County and Tipton County teams in the IHSAA girls basketball state tournament.

NOTE: Several games have been rescheduled due to the weather in Indiana on Jan. 29-30.

UPDATED: February 4, 2019 | 11:00 p.m.

CLASS 4A SECTIONAL 7 AT ZIONSVILLE

Jan. 29 at 6:00 p.m.

  1. Lafayette Jeff (60) vs #16 Zionsville (78)
  2. Harrison (83) vs Logansport (49)

Feb. 1 at 6:00 p.m.

  1. Kokomo (28) vs #16 Zionsville (67)
  2. McCutcheon (34) vs Harrison (51)

Feb. 2 at 7:00 p.m. (Saturday)

  1. Zionsville (62) vs Harrison (26)

Zionsville (18-8) plays in the Kokomo Regional

CLASS 3A SECTIONAL 20 AT FRANKFORT

Feb. 1 at 6:00 p.m.

  1. Frankfort (43) vs Maconaquah (53)
  2. West Lafayette (68) vs Peru (46)

Feb. 2 at 6:00 p.m.

  1. Western (54) vs Maconaquah (58)
  2. #1 Northwestern (70) vs West Lafayette (33)

Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m. (Monday)

  1. Maconaquah (23) vs #1 Northwestern (80)

Northwestern (23-3) plays in the Rensselaer Central Regional

CLASS 2A SECTIONAL 39 AT MADISON-GRANT

Jan. 29 at 6:00 p.m.

  1. Taylor (70) vs Alexandria (52)

Feb. 1 at 6:00 p.m.

  1. Madison-Grant (28) vs Carroll (47)
  2. Eastbrook (36) vs Eastern (34)

Feb. 2 at 6:00 p.m.

  1. #9 Tipton (68) vs Taylor (58)
  2. Carroll (34) vs Eastbrook (48)

Feb. 4 at 7:00 p.m. (Monday)

  1. #9 Tipton (61) vs Eastbrook (45)

Tipton (20-5) plays in the Eastern Regional

CLASS 1A SECTIONAL 54 AT NORTHFIELD

Jan. 31 at 7:00 p.m.

  1. #4 Northfield (79) vs Clinton Central (34)

Feb. 1 at 6:00 p.m.

  1. Southwood (56) vs Frontier (27)
  2. Tri-Central (28) vs #4 Northfield (74)

Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m. (Saturday)

  1. Southwood (31) vs #4 Northfield (58)

Northfield (22-2) plays in the Tipton Regional

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