ANNAWAN — With Wethersfield hanging tough at halftime of Thursday's Class 1A Annawan Regional girls' basketball title game, Megan Foes knew it was time to take action.|
Held to just four first-half points on 1-of-7 field-goal shooting, the Bravettes' junior forward elevated her game in the third quarter. In so doing, she helped elevate the No. 1 seeded regional hosts to their fourth straight regional championship with a 75-59 victory over the Lady Geese.
Foes hit five of six shots in the third quarter, including three straight buckets that helped fuel an 11-0 quarter-closing run by Annawan (26-2) that turned Annawan's slim 30-26 halftime edge into a sizable 55-31 advantage with eight minutes to play.
"We haven't lost here in two years, and we weren't going to let it happen now," said Foes, who finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and a game-high five steals. "We knew we had to come out and work as hard as we possibly could and try to finish it off. We knew Wethersfield would put up a big fight against us."
Now, the Bravettes take their game on the road as they advance to Monday's 7:30 p.m. semifinal at the Oglesby Sectional at Illinois Valley Community College. They will take on Newark, which topped Serena 49-36 to win the Serena Regional crown.
"We're getting our goals set now," said Annawan standout Celina VanHyfte. "We're focused on our new goal, which is winning a sectional title. We're very excited about the next game."
In a physical, at times chippy, game before a full house on Thursday, the two Lincoln Trail Conference rivals played even-up basketball in the first half. The second-seeded Lady Geese (23-8) led 9-8 with 2:47 left in the first quarter on an Aly Eastman bucket, but Annawan closed the period strong to go up 16-11. However, the Geese weren't through yet.
Sick with the flu in last week's 64-50 loss to Annawan, junior point guard Kristen Parsons made her presence felt in the second quarter with a pair of 3-pointers that kept Wethersfield nipping at the Bravettes' heels. The last of those treys made it a 28-26 game with 1:35 left in the first half, and the Geese trailed just 30-26 at intermission.
"Kristen had a great first half," Wethersfield coach Becky Ince said of Parsons, who finished with 14 points and four 3-pointers. "We did a great job on defense, and a nice job of having our other kids step up and hit some big shots. During the year, they've learned to do that as other teams have taken to face-guarding Sarah (Hansen)."
But once the third quarter commenced, Hansen continued to be bottled up by the Annawan defenders after hitting just one of six first-half shots. Meantime, Paige Randall and VanHyfte each augmented Foes' hot hand with six third-period points each.
VanHyfte tallied game highs of 30 points and 11 rebounds, with Randall and Maddie Jackson each adding nine points. Jackson also snared seven boards.
"We knew we were the more physical team, so we had to go out and get more rebounds and give 110 percent, and that's what we did," said VanHyfte. "It means a lot to do this with all our fans here to support us. This is the biggest deal ever, and we'll never lose on our home court. That's a promise."
Hansen did finally cut loose in the fourth quarter, hitting five of her six 3-balls and finishing with 24 points, but by then it was too little, too late as Annawan's physical play paid off with its 24 trips to the foul line, compared to Wethersfield's 10.
"You're not going to win many games when it's that lopsided," said Ince. "But I'm so proud of this team. As good as they are, it's equally important to be humble and show good character. These girls are winners in life, whether they won tonight or not."
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