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Viking girls advance to HC title game with win over Tri

Blue River Valley’s Hannah Foster scored 14 points in Friday night’s 47-31 victory over Tri in the opening round of the Henry County Girls Basketball Tournament in Shelton Gymnasium, and led the Viking girls to their first-ever championship game appearance Saturday night against Shenandoah. C-T file photo

By RON GREESON - For The Courier-Times

MOUNT SUMMIT — For Blue River Valley varsity girls basketball, a season of realized dreams continued Friday night in the first round of the 2019 Henry County Tournament.

For the second time this season, the Lady Vikings topped Tri, this time 47-31, to earn a slot opposite Shenandoah for the championship in Saturday’s first game in Shelton Gymnasium. The Lady Raiders easily beat Knightstown in Friday’s opening game.

It is the first time the Blue River girls have reached the championship game since the county tournament was reinstated in 2013. The Vikings beat host Shenandoah in overtime in their regular season game back on Nov. 16.

Host Blue River pulled away late in the first quarter of Friday’s nightcap, leading 15-7 at the first break, and pushed out to a big lead by intermission.

And even though the Lady Titans fought back strongly in the second half, trying to defend a county title, the big effort fell short versus the experienced, and very balanced, Lady Vikings.

Balance in the offensive scoring, plus stingy defense, combined to give Blue River the early lead versus Tri.

The Titans nosed ahead 5-4 in the early going, but the Vikings responded right away, moving ahead for good and leading 8-5 at the 3:45 mark of the first quarter. With senior Hannah Foster scoring seven first quarter points, and freshman Ally Madden adding four, the Vikings scored seven of the last nine points to build a comfortable working lead after eight minutes of play.

The second quarter was even better for Blue River.

Five more points for the Vikings moved the margin to 20-7, then after the second of two successive treys from Lindsey Williams, the tournament hosts had a startling 29-9 advantage at the 1:49 mark of the second quarter. The lead was 31-13 at intermission.

The Vikings could manage just three points in the third quarter while Tri scored eight to close the deficit to 13 points at 34-21 with eight minutes to play.

But 13 points for Blue River in the fourth quarter made it comfortable for the victors at the end.

Winning varsity head coach Terry Bales of Blue River spoke afterward of the game plan for besting always-tough Tri in Friday’s game.

“We hoped to be able to try to contain Phelps (6-1 sophomore Averi), and force Tri to shoot long threes to beat us,” Bales explained. “I think that strategy worked for the most part, although they had a couple of late treys, and we already had a big enough margin that it didn’t hurt our chances.”

As for the offensive focus?

“Our goal offensively was taking good care of the ball, passing the ball well, and not turning it over,” Bales said.

Again, mission accomplished.

Blue River had just a scant two turnovers in the first half, unofficially, and only five more after halftime, while Tri had 15 for the game.

Hurting the Titans’ chances was the continued absence of one of the team’s most experienced players. Senior guard Kaley Harrison is still recovering from a severe ankle injury, and her ball handling and shooting skills were sorely missed in facing a Blue River team that has clicked on almost all cylinders throughout most of the current season.

“We really missed Kaley as an outside shooter, and to give us another outside threat with Averi on the inside,” Tri veteran varsity Head Coach Jeff Miller said after the game. “But give Blue River all the credit in the world. They have an experienced team that knows how to play and how to win games. Their balance is hard to deal with for us this year, what with the lack of depth that we have.”

Tri played only seven players in the game, and only four scored, all starters.

The sophomore Phelps had a big game for the Titans, producing game-highs of 18 points and 14 rebounds, unofficially. Auburn Harvey and Bayleigh Appleby had five points apiece, and Makenna Hawk had the other three.

Harvey, Appleby and Hawk each had one trey, with Maddie Burchett, Chloe Gentry and Madeline Hoover all playing, but not scoring, for 6-8 Tri.

The Titans return to action Tuesday night at home versus an improved Northeastern team in a Tri-Eastern Conference (TEC) game. The Knights won over Lincoln Friday night to advance to the Saturday night title game of the Wayne County Tournament in Hagerstown.

Hannah Foster led the Vikings with a team-high 14 points, and a team-high five field goals. Freshman post player Ally Madden had 11 points, including six on three inside buckets in the fourth quarter in putting aside a strong Titan comeback effort in the second half.

Blue River Valley 47, Tri 31

TRI (31)

Phelps 8-19 2-5 18, Harvey 1-6 2-2 5, Burchett 0-7 0-0 0, Appleby 2-7 0-0 5, Hawk 1-2 0-0 3, Gentry 0-2 0-0 0, Hoover 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 12-43 4-7 31.

BLUE RIVER VALLEY (47)

Williams 2-12 0-0 6, Madden 4-10 3-4 11, Han. Foster 5-11 2-2 14, Hal. Foster 1-3 1-2 3, Cross 3-5 2-3 9, Thornburgh 0-0 0-0 0, Taylor 1-2 0-0 2, Snavely 1-1 0-1 2, Ooten 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-45 8-12 47.

Tri 7 6 8 10 - 31

Blue River 15 16 3 13 - 47

3-point goals – Tri 3 (Harvey, Appleby, Hawk), Blue River 5 (Williams 2, Han. Foster 2, Cross). Rebounds – Tri 27 (Phelps 14), Blue River 25 (Madden 8). Total fouls – Tri 14, Blue River 10. Turnovers – Tri 15, Blue River 7. Records – Tri 6-8, Blue River 13-4.