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Frankton shocks Oak Hill in regional final

By CHUCK LANDIS - clandis@chronicle-tribune.com

GREENTOWN —Indiana’s top-ranked Class 2A basketball team went down Saturday having received a taste of its own medicine.

Frankton applied full-court pressure defense that rattled Oak Hill and triggered a 68-58 victory in the championship game of the Eastern Regional. Frankton advances to the semistate to meet Central Noble while the Golden Eagles’ season is over.

No. 1-ranked Oak Hill finished 23-3 and opened the game on an 8-2 run but the complexion of the game quickly changed in Frankton’s favor. Frankton ran off 11 unanswered points to go ahead 13-8 and never trailed the rest of the game.

Even though Frankton played an overtime game in the second semifinal earlier Saturday, it had plenty in reserve to fight off Oak Hill’s vaunted defensive pressure throughout the game. Oak Hill pulled to within 21-19 at halftime and tied it twice at 21-all and 23-all early in the third quarter.

But the Eagles committed six turnovers against the press in the third quarter and would fall behind 38-32 at the break. Frankton also was able to break down Oak Hill’s press to connect on 6-of-9 field goals and 5-of-6 free throws.

Any chance Oak Hill had to get back in the game ended when Frankton’s Destyne Knight knocked down two free throws and then Sydney Tucker made a 3-point basket for a 43-32 lead less than one minute into the period. It set up a fourth quarter where Oak Hill playing from behind was forced to foul and Frankton took advantage to hit 17-of-20 in the final period.

Tucker and Knight, Frankton’s fourth-year standouts, finished with 23 and 20 points, respectively, and Frankton was able to make 18-of-32 field goals in the game.

Taylor Westgate topped Oak Hill with 17 points while Kaela Robey added 11 and Adrianna Trexler 10 before each fouled out in the fourth quarter. The Golden Eagles had four starters foul out.

Semifinal

Playing impeccable defense, the Oak Hill girls’ basketball team cruised into the regional final Saturday morning over tournament-tested Lafayette Central Catholic, the Class 2A state champions two years ago.

The Eagles limited the Knights to 33 percent shooting (13-of-39) and took away the 3-point shot that is a vaunted part of their offense in the 53-38 victory in the Eastern gym. Central Catholic averages seven ‘3s’ a game but connected on just 3-of-14 against the Eagles.

Even more impressive, Knights prolific 3-point shooter Lexi Thompson (79-of-161) never connected from behind the arc and had only three attempts. The Eagles, playing matchup zone defense, gave Thompson little room to maneuver on the perimeter and also prevented the lob pass inside to 6-foot center Libby Bonner.

“We really turned up the defensive intensity the whole game and communicated with each other so well,” Eagles forward Kaela Robey said. “In the matchup zone, talking and communicating is so important ... and we shut (Thompson) down. She’s a great shooter and she didn’t get any opportunities.”

Top-ranked Oak Hill improved to 23-2 while Central Catholic bowed out at 15-11 and had won 10 of its previous 12 games.

Oak Hill opened the game with six unanswered points and only trailed briefly in the second quarter. Jenessa Hasty led the Eagles with 18 points and was followed by Robey with 13 points and a team-best seven rebounds and Taylor Westgate with 11 points.

An 8-0 run in the second quarter put Central Catholic ahead 19-17 and culminated with Kaylyn Cherry knocking down her second 3-point shot of the half. But Adrianna Trexler tied it at 19-all moments later with a baseline jumper, then Hasty made a layup as the Eagles ended the half on an 8-0 run of their own.

“(Defense) is what kept us in the game, especially in the second quarter when we were down,” Hasty said. “We communicated with each other and knew where the shooters were and also be aware of the lob into (Bonner).”

Bonner led Central Catholic with 14 points and five rebounds but sat out most of the second quarter with two fouls and the Knights fell behind 25-19 without her. Thompson added 12 points and her greatest damage came from the free throw line where she was perfect on eight attempts.

The Knights were attempting to make another run early in the third quarter and closed to within 29-23 on a Bonner basket. At this point, Robey took over and scored on two drives to the basket and 4-of-4 free throws to help Oak Hill extend its advantage to 40-30 at the break.

A key to the Eagles’ success was rebounding where they had a commanding 34-21 advantage and it was even more lopsided in the first half. They turned the offensive rebounds into putbacks reflected in their 20-of-44 field goal shooting for 45.5 percent.

“(Central Catholic) averages 51-52 points and to hold them to 38 is a tremendous job,” Eagles coach Todd Law said. “We had them for no offensive rebounds and gave a tremendous defensive effort.

“Our perimeter defenders did a good job ... and we executed the offense well and was able to get it inside at times,” Law added.

Hasty stole the ball twice in the closing minutes and converted them into layups that applied the finishing touches on the victory. The junior guard had the Eagles’ only 3-point basket and was 7-of-14 from the field and 2-of-3 free throws.

While she didn’t score, Brittany McCorkle made a solid bench contribution with three assists and two steals. Westgate also blocked two shots.