Lady Lions come up short in Regional Semi-Finals PDF Print E-mail
Written by George Browning   
Wednesday, 21 February 2018 08:59

In tournament play, the outcome of a came can turn on just a possession or two.

That was the case for the Salem Lady Lions in their 42-35 loss to Evansville Memorial in the Class 3A Regional Semi-Finals February 10 at Charlestown.

With SHS trailing 30-28 to start the fourth quarter Lettie Nice got a steal that led to a basket by Mackenzie Underwood that tied the score.

From there, the Lady Lions had several opportunities to take and build on a lead.

Nice blocked a shot and got the recover.

Salem’s lone senior Jamie Taylor came up with a steal.

Evansville Memorial even missed two free throws, leaving the door open for Salem to walk drive through.

The Lady Lions, however, couldn’t find any offense.

Evansville’s Ryleigh Anslinger broke the 30-all tie with a three.

Underwood answered with a two for Salem.

But the SHS basket didn’t end the momentum from Anslinger’s three.

Evansville went on a 9-0 run before a meaningless three by Callie Backherms provided the final score.

“Sometimes you just tip your hat to players on the other team,” Hickey said. “Number 20 (Anslinger) made a big shot. We were guarding her, it’s not like we lost her, she just made a big shot. Then once they got the lead it took us out of what we wanted to do.”

Salem hadn’t trailed a lot in any of their tournament games and Hickey admitted the difficulty in playing from behind after having not been in that situation.

Salem started the game straong, building a 5-1 lead out of the gate, but Memorial began forcing turnovers and went on a 17-2 run to end the first quarter and led 17-7 at the end of one.

“We talked about what a huge factor turnovers would be,” Hickey said. “Evansbville is aggressive and they put their hands on you and they play a brutal schedule and that’s how they have to play.

“We knew that coming in. Two of our keys was to limit turnovers and to be strong!”

Evansville’s physical play began to work against them in the second half as the officials began to call the game much tighter.

The Lady Lions cut a 10-point first quarter deficit to just four by half time, 23-19, thanks to getting to the free throw line.

Salem attempted 13 free throws and hit 11.

SHS’s climb back into  contention took most of the third quarter.

A basket by Taylor off an assist by Miller trimmed EM’s lead to three, 27-24.

Underwood scored a basket with 3:16 remaining in the third that pulled Salem to within one, 27-26 and a basket by Miller put SHS back in front 28-27 with 2:30 remaining.

A free throw by Anslinger tied the scored again at 28-all and Evansville’s Grace Lensing hit a basket giving her team a 30-28 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

“This is an awesome group,” Hickey said. “They are winners. I never doubted that we were going to make a run. They are absolute winners. Not just on the basketball court, but also in life. These are the higest quality of kids you can find anywhere.

“They never got rattled. Things went bad for a bit, but I knew they were going to snap out of it, because winners always show up.”

Taylor had a rare experience as a Salem Lady Lions. She was part of two sectional championship teams.

SHS won in both her freshman and senior seasons.

“As a freshman my role was more trying to get the team ready, so I didn’t get to be as much a part of it,” she said. “This experience is a lot more rewarding to get to be part of the big wins.”

Hickey said “being a part of it” is an understatement.

“Jamie is our leader,” he said. “She is who we look to. That doesn’t mean she will score the points and things like that, but she is the one who keeps us calm and knows what to say.”

Hickey was also part of the sectional Taylor’s freshman year.

He said they were totally different experiences.

“This year was 180 degree difference because in the one four years ago, we were the underdog,” he said. “Out of the eight teams we were seventh or eighth. We never doubted ourselves because we knew we had the best player in the sectional (Alex Davidson).

“This year we were the favorite and that brings stress and pressure. I;ve never been around a closer group of kids and it was awesome be part of it.”

Salem finished with a 22-5 record and was second in the Mid Southern Conference.

Underwood, who is a junior, was emotional about moving on next season without Taylor by her side, but admitted the sadness she felt after the loss in regionals makes her hungry for next season.

“If I could, I would jump to next October,” she said. “I want to get back on the court, because I want to make it to the next level. We are going to miss Jamie, but we have a lot coming back and some talented freshman coming up,”


EM    17     7    7    12--42

SHS     7   12    9      7--35

EM: Murphy 3, G. Lensing 15, Anslinger 6, Rieckers 7, Russell 5, H. Lensing 2, Housman 4.

SHS: Callie Backherms 3, Jamie Taylor 4, Mackenzie Underwood 8, Hope Tomlinson 2, Leah Miller 13, Lettie Nice 5.

3-pointers: EM (5): Murphy 1, Anslinger 1, Rieckers 2, Russell 1. SHS (1) Backherms 1.