Jeeps fall short in heartbreaking fashion


Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Springs Valley's Shakira Harford and Northeast Dubois' Madison Cave struggle for the ball during Friday's Class 1A girls basketball sectional game in French Lick. Cave led the Jeeps with 16 points in their 34-32 loss to the host Blackhawks on Friday evening in French Lick. Springs Valley defeated Northeast Dubois on a buzzer-beater layup from freshman Kennedy Land. For more photos from the game, click here.

FRENCH LICK — Hoosier Hysteria is a well-known theme across the state of Indiana, especially during the postseason in the boys and girls basketball sectional tournaments.

On Friday evening in French Lick, the Northeast Dubois girls basketball team found themselves on the wrong side of the Hysteria. Springs Valley freshman Kennedy Land sank a buzzer-beating layup as time expired to give the Blackhawks the win over the Jeeps, 34-32.

While there’s no denying that it was a somber scene around the team following the loss, there was also an abundance of positive vibes in the air for the Jeeps. Entering Friday night’s game, the Blackhawks were ranked right outside of the top 10 in Class 1A with a 16-7 record while the Jeeps were 56th out of 100 teams in the Class 1A Sagarin ratings with a record of 5-17.

If you just looked at the two teams’ win-and-loss records, you probably wouldn’t have anticipated this being a close game. But for anyone that has followed the Jeeps throughout the season, the close battle was anything but a surprise.

“This game shows everything about our team — it shows how high character our girls are and I could not be more proud of their effort,” said Northeast Dubois head coach Andy Chinn. “I’m so proud to be their coach and I’m so proud to have these girls on my team.”

Junior guard Madison Cave, who led the Jeeps with 11 points and also had several big free throws and the game-tying three pointer with three minutes left, added: “This is the most fight we’ve had this whole season. We started the season by scoring just 15 points (in our opening game) and now we were within two points of a sectional championship (appearance). I couldn’t be more proud of my team.”

The Jeeps and Blackhawks had a close battle earlier in the season where Valley was victorious 61-54 but Chinn said this game wasn’t too similar to the earlier meeting. In that game, he said the Jeeps weren’t very disciplined with the ball but on Friday he believes they ran their offense extremely and frustrated the Blackhawks with their defensive pressure.

One area of the two games that was similar was that neither team was able to gain much of an advantage over the other one throughout most of the game. While all four quarters were back-and-forth, the final quarter had by far the most drama.

The Blackhawks entered the quarter with a six-point advantage but the Jeeps weren’t going to let the lead get any larger than that. After both teams exchanged turnovers for the first couple of minutes, freshman guard Hadley Fuhrman nailed a three-pointer to trim the Valley lead to 25-22 but the Blackhawks answered with an and-one from junior forward/center Jewel McCormick to make it 28-22. Valley pushed the lead back up to 30-24 with around five minutes remaining but the Jeeps started to get to the charity stripe as Cave knocked down three free throws on consecutive trips to make it a 30-27 Blackhawk advantage.

Northeast Dubois tied the game for the first time since the early minutes of the opening quarter on a corner three-pointer from Cave but Valley regained the lead shortly after that to make it 32-30. The Jeeps once again tied the game with about a minute remaining thanks to two big shots at the free-throw line from Fuhrman.

Then, came the final possessions — Valley tried to hang onto the ball for as long as they could but the Jeeps continuously tried to get the ball back as they knocked it out of bounds twice. After a Valley miss with seconds left, freshman forward Brinley Royer was fouled. And with the Jeeps in the bonus, that meant she would go to the charity stripe. However, Royer missed the first shot on the one-and-one and Valley capped the game with the buzzer-beating layup.

Northeast Dubois head coach Andy Chinn jumps as he yells to the team with the score tied and 17 seconds left on the clock during Friday's Class 1A girls basketball sectional game in French Lick. The Jeeps and Blackhawks were tied for the majority of the way with under two minutes left as Northeast Dubois was defeated in the sectional semifinal in heartbreaking fashion. For more photos from the game, click here.

“We had freshmen, sophomores and juniors step up and make plays but things just didn’t go our way right at the end,” Chinn said. “Our future is so bright and it’s so awesome to see them perform at this stage — we’ll be back.”

Madison Cave led the Jeeps with 11 points while Hadley Fuhrman added 10 points. Haley Reckelhoff also had a few big shots as she finished with five points.

Jewel McCormick led the Blackhawks with 11 points while Shakira Harford was on fire early as she finished with 10 points. Kennedy Land, who made the winning shot, finished with seven points.

While this loss will sting the Jeeps for awhile, the team knows that they can use this tough battle to learn for the future.

“At this point, we know we can play with good teams — their record was 16-7 and ours was almost the complete opposite of that,” Cave said. “We know that we can play with teams that have a good record, we just have to keep it on our level and play at our pace.”

Chinn added: “The way they felt in the locker room after, that doesn’t go away. But we lose nobody and we gain a lot — we know what this loss feels like and in 365 days from now, hopefully we’ll be climbing up the ladder and cutting down those nets.”

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