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Vikings roll past Cardinals to advance to title game

By RON GREESON - For The Courier-Times

LYNN – The Class A state-ranked Blue River Valley Lady Vikings came out in Saturday night’s semifinals of Sectional 56 and took control early.

In winning for the 18th time this season, Blue River earned its spot in Monday’s Class A sectional final at Randolph Southern by rolling past Seton Catholic 55-15.

Saturday’s postponed first semifinal was a rout from the start, as the Vikings scored the first 15 points of the game, keeping the Lady Cardinals off the scoreboard until Seton freshman Lydia Reichley drained a trey in the waning seconds of the first quarter.

The runner-up team in the Mid-Eastern Conference in varsity girls basketball kept its defensive focus in the second quarter, blanking a Seton Catholic team which ended its season at 4-19.

At the offensive end, Blue River scored 20 points in the second quarter, substituting all 12 players in uniform throughout the eight minutes of play to put the game away.

The second half was more a case of working on some offensive patterns, getting plenty of game action for everyone on the team, and resting the key players for the 18-6 Viking squad ahead of Monday’s sectional title game.

Blue River varsity Head Coach Terry Bales was pleased.

“We were focused throughout the game, and I thought we played pretty good defense throughout all 32 minutes,” Bales said afterward. “The girls did a good job of playing with a purpose, even with the score as lopsided as it was. It was a matter of just getting the win.”

Eleven of the 12 Viking players scored in the game, and even though the shooting was not up to the usual percentages either from the floor or the charity stripe, the outcome was never in doubt. Freshman post player Ally Madden led the team with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Seniors Ashley Ooten and Rachel Snavely had seven and six points respectively in reserve roles for Blue River. Senior Hannah Foster had five points in limited playing time, with classmates and starters Lindsey Williams and Haley Foster adding four and two points, respectively. The team’s other senior starter, Brooke Taylor, also had two points, and spoke after the win about the team’s balance and approach throughout this very successful season.

“The players on this team are always looking to help each other out, and set up plays for others, and we are unselfish,” Taylor said. “My main role is to screen and get opportunities for my teammates, who are all good shooters. Any of them can score points at any time.”

The last Blue River varsity girls basketball team to win a sectional title was the 1984-85 squad, so it has been 34 years going into the Monday game versus Henry County foe Tri, who beat host Randolph Southern 40-27 in Saturday’s second semifinal game to advance and meet the Vikings Monday night.

“I have not focused on the history of this,” said Bales in discussing the sectional championship game. “We know who we are as a team, and we just need to play our game the way we can play it, and I think we will do well on Monday. This team plays best when we do well what we are best at, and I think our girls will be prepared to do that when we play Monday.”

Abby Thornburgh scored five points for BRV on Saturday, including a trey in the final seconds of the first quarter to give the Vikings a 18-3 lead after the first quarter. Emma Blackburn added four for Blue River, as did Lexi Whitinger, while Mallory Cross scored three and Joslynn Witham played as well.

For Seton, Reichley led with six points on the team’s only three-point field goals, while seniors Cassidy Frame and Paige Klaine each ended their careers with four points, and Emma Berger added a free throw.

Seniors Taylor Haager and Kimberlee Lichtenberger started and played for the Cardinals, but did not score, while Suzanne Becker and Elizabeth Hannah both played in reserved roles. The ninth and final member of the Cardinal team, Mary Hannah, was in uniform for the game, but could not play.

In meeting Tri for the championship Monday, Blue River will face a team it has already beaten twice this season. The Vikings won 41-29 in an early regular season meeting, then topped the Titans 47-31 in the Henry County Tournament in a first round matchup on the Viking home hardwood in Shelton Gymnasium.

The sectional winner at Randolph Southern will play North Vermillion in regional play at Tipton on Saturday.

Blue River Valley 55, Seton Catholic 15

SETON CATHOLIC (15)

Klaine 2-8 0-2 4, Reichley 2-8 0-0 6, Frame 2-8 0-0 4, Haager 0-4 0-2 0, Lichtenberger 0-1 0-0 0, Becker 0-2 0-0 0, Berger 0-1 1-2 1, E. Hannah 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 6-33 1-6 15.

BLUE RIVER (55)

Han. Foster 2-5 0-0 5, Williams 1-10 1-2 4, Hal. Foster 1-9 0-0 2, Taylor 1-2 0-0 2, Madden 6-18 1-6 13, Cross 1-4 1-2 3, Snavely 2-6 2-2 6, Blackburn 2-3 0-0 4, Thornburgh 2-3 0-0 5, Witham 0-6 0-2 0, Ooten 3-4 0-0 7, Whitinger 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 23-72 5-14 55.

Seton Cath. 3 0 4 8 — 15

Blue River 18 20 6 11 — 55

3-point goals – Seton Catholic 2 (Reichley 2), Blue River 4 (Han. Foster, Williams, Thornburgh, Ooten). Rebounds – Seton Catholic 30 (Frame 10), Blue River 40 (Madden 11). Total fouls – Seton Catholic 9, Blue River 5. Turnovers – Seton Catholic 31, Blue River 8. Records – Seton Catholic 4-19, Blue River 18-6.