LIZTON — With advancement to the Hendricks County girls’ basketball championship on the line, Danville and Plainfield squared off in the early game Friday night.
Unlike their first meting, the contest was much closer throughout and was a back-and-forth, physical game that featured 47 fouls.
The game was decided in the last minute, with Plainfield coming out on top, 78-74.
“In 20 years of this, I’ve seen it all and would like to think I handle it a little better,” Plainfield coach Curt Benge said smiling. “The resiliency of our young team and having seniors come up to make plays at the end… we haven’t lost a game within six points yet. We feel like we can win those close games and are finding ways to do it.”
With 35 seconds remaining, Plainfield’s Kiah Ferrell sent a bounce pass into MacKenzie Reeder after drawing a double team in the lane. Reeder converted for a 76-74 advantage.
“For Kiah to give the ball off and not feel like she had to shoot, that was huge,” Benge said. “That was one of three or four plays that was really big.”
Plainfield senior Sophia Wilson then took a stolen inbounds pass and converted that into a basket for a four-point lead with 20.1 seconds remaining. Wilson led all scorers with nine points in the fourth quarter.
First-year Danville coach Kaley May was happy with the way her squad had obviously improved throughout he season, but was left unfulfilled.
“I’m not one for moral victories, I’d rather get the ‘W’ but we are making strides in the program,” she said. “I couldn’t be more proud of my girls because we played as team and we played with heart. Those two things will take you a far way.”
Plainfield opened the game on a 6-0 run with four points off turnovers, a hallmark of the team’s first meeting.
Danville responded and pulled within one at 14-13 near the end of the first with two free throws from Hannah Newby.
The two teams opened up their offenses in the second quarter and Plainfield surged to a 28-20 lead with 3:25 left after a Maddie O’Day 3-pointer and bucket from Kayla Casteel.
Two baskets by Maleha Motter and a bucket and two free throws by Newby cut Plainfield’s lead to four at the half, 41-37.
Danville came out aggressively, feeding Motter in the post, where she tallied 10 of her game-high 24 points and built a 55-47 with 3:22 remaining in the quarter.
“I don’t know what it is,” May said. “We’ve consistently been a second half team and it’s a blessing and a curse at the same time.”
Down 57-53, back-to-back baskets from Blakeley Shurig and Kylie Dostin tied the game before two free throws from Danville’s Allie Lake put the Warriors up 59-57 heading into the fourth.
Knotted at 62, Danville hit five free throws for a 66-62 lead, but Plainfield went on a 7-3 run to tie it at 69. Lake gave Danville it’s last lead of the game at 70-69 and a Motter 3-pointer tied the game at 74-74 with 51 seconds remaining.
Plainfield’s burst at the end and ability to stay calm in a tense situation sealed the game. Riley Blackwell led Plainfield with 17 points as Casteel (13) and Wilson (11) also finished in double figures.
Newby tallied 16 and Lake had 13 for Danville, as Motter also pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.
Plainfield takes on Brownsburg, winners of the last four county crowns, at 6 p.m. Saturday in the championship game at Tri-West.
— Follow Hendricks County Flyer sports editor Jake Thompson on Twitter @JacobEThompson.