DU QUOIN – Third seed Vienna scored the last 12 points of the game to hold off a determined sixth seed West Frankfort to win 55-43 Tuesday, and advance to the finals of the Du Quoin 2A girls basketball regional to face second seed Hamilton County on Thursday night at 7 p.m.
"They played really hard," said Vienna coach Jamie Kerley. "I scouted them a couple times and played Hamilton County tight a couple times for three and a half quarters two Saturdays ago, and I knew we had our hands full, but I didn’t know we’d have our worst night of the season at the free throw line (15-of-28). Hopefully we can correct that and be ready for a really, really good Hamilton County team Thursday."
Haleigh Keeling led Vienna with 14 points, with Alyssa Jones adding 13 and Addison Bent 10. Cali Wright led West Frankfort and the game with 15 points in her final game. Madison Carpenter finished with 13 for the Redbirds.
In the first semifinal, Du Quoin made a late run, cutting a 10-point lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter to three with 2:43 remaining, but the rally fell short as Hamilton County eliminated the seventh-seeded Indians, 51-42. Sophomore Elizabeth Bird came off the bench for the second night in a game in a row to lead the Lady Indians and the game with 16 points.
West Frankfort (9-18) rallied from six down to take a one-point at the half and trailed by six again with 1:35 remaining in the third quarter before tying the score, 43-43, on a 3-pointer by Madison Carpenter with 4:54 remaining in the game.
"We played really well," said West Frankfort coach Matt Hampleman. "Size wise they had us at just about every spot. I can’t say enough about my two seniors, Beery and Wright, they’ve carried us pretty much all year. We got great contributions from freshman McLaren as well as Carpenter tonight. I though Chloe Peavey did a good job on the interior post against their big kids. We just didn’t have enough at the end to stay on top."
A layup by Addison Bent followed by jumper by Emma Rush put the nail in the Redbirds’ coffin. Within a 2:05 span starting with 3:23 remaining McLaren, Wright and Beery fouled out.
The Lady Eagles went to the line four times in the final three minutes and made 4-of-7 to seal the win. Bent scored with 19 seconds left for the final margin.
Vienna (21-8) jumped out to a four-point lead in the first two and a half minutes, but the Redbirds cut the lead to one with 68 seconds left when Beery drew a shooting foul and made both her free throws. However, Lindsey Holhubner scored on a layup with five seconds remaining to give the Lady Eagles a 14-11 lead heading into the second quarter.
Keeling canned a 3-pointer to open the second quarter to extend Vienna’s lead to six, but once again the Redbirds rallied. Down by five with 3:27 remaining, Carpenter sank a 3-pointer. Beery then stole the ball and scored, and 13 seconds later, McLaren stole the ball and fed Beery for a score as the Redbirds took their first lead, 21-19, with 1:51 left in the half.
Vienna retook the lead at the line with Madisen Pearman making two and Kateyn Wiggs splitting a pair, but Carpenter picked off a pass and fed McLaren for a running layup with 15 seconds left to give the Redbirds a 23-22 lead at the break.
West Frankfort remained hot at the beginning of the third quarter, increasing its lead to four on a 3-pointer by Wright, but Vienna went on a 13-4 run to take a five-point lead halfway through the quarter on a 3-pointer by Keeling, and extended it to six with 1:35 remaining.
The Redbirds trailed by five 52 seconds into the fourth quarter. McLaren started the final rally with a putback before Wright was fouled and made both her free throws to cut the lead to one. After Rush scored to increase the lead back to three, Carpenter drained her three to tie the score, and that was the last points the Redbirds would score.