MCLEANSBORO — The top-ranked Lady Bulldogs of Harrisburg gutted out a tough defensive effort to defeat Nashville 43-30 in the Class 2A Hamilton County girls sectional.
Undefeated Harrisburg rolled out to a quick 12-3 lead against the Hornettes, but the remainder of the game was played at the pace of a siege. The Lady Bulldogs were never able to get into an offensive flow, but Nashville never got closer than six points.
“I’m proud of our kids. I thought they prepared really well for what Nashville wanted to do,” said Harrisburg coach Jake Stewart. “I thought we played really good defense. I thought we rebounded well. I thought we played well enough to get the job done.”
Nashville closed to within 18-12 in the opening seconds of the third quarter when Karly Stanowski scored from the low post. However, that would be the last bucket Stanowski would score as Harrisburg’s double teams reduced her effectiveness.
“I thought we did a really good job of that,” Stewart said. “We got in foul trouble in some parts of the game, but overall I’m happy with on how we came and double-teamed from the weak side.”
The Lady Bulldogs got 17 points from Lotte Miller and 11 from Jessica Hopson.
Although Harrisburg was just 17-of-25 from the free throw line for the game, the Lady Bulldogs were money down the stretch, making 10-of-14 in the final 90 seconds.
And, bottom line, Harrisburg was able to advance although the game was played at Nashville’s tempo.
“It’s hard to speed them up because they are so good at playing their type of pace,” Stewart said. “I thought we did get some runout points. We guarded them up close a little bit and that kind of helped us speed them up a little bit. I told the kids this time of year you have to win running and gunning and slowing it down.”
Stanowski scored 14 for Nashville.
In the first game, Mater Dei’s relentless defense was too much for Vienna in a 57-30 win.
The Knights created 26 turnovers with their full-court pressure, and turned many of Vienna’s miscues into points.
“They’re good,” said Vienna coach Jamie Kerley. “I’ve seen three films on them. I didn’t see anything like that on the films I saw. Hands down, they’re the best team we’ve played all year. Hands down the most intense team we’ve played all year. Hands down the most physical team we played all year.”
Mater Dei’s defense kept the Eagles from getting the ball to the paint.
“We could never get into a flow,” Kerley said. “Our strength is getting the ball to the big kids. When you do get it to a big kid, the contact keeps the ball from going into the basket. Then, you don’t get a second chance because they crash the boards incredibly hard.”
The game started out in ragged fashion with Mater Dei missing its first six shots. However, once the Knights got untracked they rattled off 15 points before Vienna got on the board.
“They got hot,” Kerley said. “That’s the other thing. I watched film on them where they didn’t make any shots. That wasn’t the case tonight. We had to end up going man because they shot the ball so well.”
Freshman Addison Bent led the Eagles with 10 points.
Mater Dei had three players in double figures. Kierra Winkeler scored a dozen while Shannon Lampe and Abby Braundmeier both had 11.
Mater Dei and Harrisburg meet at 7 p.m. Thursday for the sectional title.