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Titans top Rebels to advance to sectional finale

By RON GREESON - For The Courier-Times

LYNN – Tri’s varsity girls basketball Lady Titans will have the chance to defend their Class A sectional title.

The Titans hit big shots in the second half Saturday night to pull away from host Randolph Southern 40-27 in the second semifinal game at The Battleground, and advanced to Monday’s delayed title game versus Henry County rival Blue River Valley.

Tri will bring a season record of 11-11 into Monday’s big game, while the Lady Vikings stand at 18-6 entering the contest.

The road to get the final wasn’t easy, but the Titans pushed through late.

Both teams struggled to score throughout the game, with good defense played by both, and when both had open looks, neither could consistently hit those shots.

Tri hit just a few more shots than the Rebels, who concluded a disappointing season at 7-16.

The Titans led 8-5 after one quarter. That advantage came on a late trey from sophomore guard Maddie Burchett, and accounted for the first three of her game-high 16 points.

And those 16 were huge for Tri, as the Southern defense focused on defending 6-2 sophomore Averi Phelps very tightly, often with more than one person, throughout the 32 minutes.

The Rebels limited Phelps to just three points, but the other Titans scored the team’s remaining 37 on the night, and that was more than enough to thwart that defensive strategy and defeat a host Rebel team that could connect on just nine field goals all night.

“All of our games with Randolph Southern for years have been like a grudge match, and this was no different,” said veteran Tri varsity Head Coach Jeff Miller after the big victory. “I told the girls to reverse the ball (passing on the opposite side of the floor) on offense to get open looks, and take the shots. The defense was focusing on Averi and we couldn’t get her the ball.”

Miller continued in talking about his wing players that made the big scoring plays.

“Auburn Harvey hit a couple of big threes in the third quarter, and Kaley (Harrison) hit a huge trey in the fourth quarter to give us some breathing room,” the Tri head coach continued. “And that young lady (pointing to Maddie Burchett) fought and scrapped all game, and had a big night for us.”

Indeed, she did.

Not only did Burchett score six points in the second quarter, but seven more in the last period, including five of five charity tosses late when Southern was forced to foul. Those late points resulted in the ability of the Titans to pull away and easily run out the clock to a 13-point margin of victory in a closer game than the scoreboard indicated.

Burchett’s six points in the second quarter allowed the Titans to move out to a 17-12 advantage at intermission, a two-possession lead that seemed bigger than that because of the struggles to score for both teams throughout the entire contest.

In the third quarter, both teams traded spurts.

First Tri scored four in a row to start the second half and move ahead 21-12. Back came the Rebels with the next six points to close to within 21-18 at the 4:34 mark of the third quarter. The Titans led 26-21 after three quarters, as each team scored nine points in the third.

When Kalee Hayes of Southern hit a jumper in the paint to start the scoring in the fourth quarter, it was a one-possession game at 26-23, Tri.

Then came the Titan burst on offense, and good anticipation for crucial steals on defense, and the team scored 14 points.

A Tri three-point fielder made it 29-23, then two more points made it 31-23 at the 4:13 mark left to play. At this point, Harrison drained the monster trey that moved the lead to double digits at 34-23.

At the 3:05 mark, the Titans committed the team’s only turnover of the second half. Southern, on the other hand, committed 10 miscues, With 24 second-half field goal attempts, Tri could hit only six, but those were huge.

Adding to it, the Titans hit seven of nine free throws in the final eight minutes.

Now comes Blue River, a team which has already beaten the Titans twice this season.

“We’ve got an opportunity, but Blue River is a ranked team, balanced and with so many shooters,” Miller concluded. “But our girls battle, and we will come out and fight and give it our best effort.”

Tri 40, Randolph Southern 27

TRI (40)

Phelps 1-7 1-2 3, Aub. Harvey 3-14 2-4 10, Harrison 1-8 0-0 3, Burchett 4-9 6-8 16, Appleby 2-7 0-3 4, Hawk 1-3 1-2 4, Gentry 0-0 0-0 0, Hoover 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-48 10-19 40.

RANDOLPH SOUTHERN (27)

Tomey 2-9 2-2 8, Jeffers 0-3 0-0 0, Hayes 1-8 0-0 2, Mikesell 2-6 1-2 6, Austin 3-11 2-2 9, Wigginton 0-1 0-0 0, Slick 1-3 0-0 2, Ledbetter 0-0 0-0 0, Shinn 0-0 0-0 0, Hale 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 9-41 5-6 27.

Tri`8`9`9`14`-40

Randolph So.`5`7`9`6`-27

3-point goals – Tri 6 (Au. Harvey 2, Harrison, Burchett 2, Hawk), Randolph So. 4 (Tomey 2, Mikesell, Austin). Rebounds – Tri 31 (Phelps 12), Randolph So. 35 (Tomey 8). Total fouls – Tri 11, Randolph So. 19. Turnovers – Tri 10, Randolph So. 19. Records – Tri 11-11, Randolph So. 7-16.