Patriot girls win first sectional game since 2017February 2, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
MOUNT VERNON - None of the current girls basketball players for Heritage Hills knew what it felt like to win a game in the sectional tournament, but they finally got that feeling Tuesday night.
The Patriots (17-4) prevailed in the Mount Vernon Sectional 32 opener with a 39-25 win against the host Wildcats for the first girls basketball sectional win since Feb. 3, 2017, nearly four years to the day, when none of the current players were on the roster at the time.
"It's awesome," said senior Rebekah Gordon. "Every year after sectionals, I knew the goal was to win the first game and move on. And being able to finally do that my senior year - it's just relieving."
"I said, 'It wasn't pretty, it was probably one of our uglier games, but we're in round two, that's all that matters,'" Pats coach Kim Brown said.
These two teams had a rematch from eight days prior when Heritage Hills ran away with a 44-9 victory, but they both held tight early on in the game. Shots didn't fall in for Heritage Hills, and it was a one-point game early on in the first quarter before junior Hadley Lytton had a couple of buckets to end the first quarter on a 4-0 run for an 11-6 lead.
Yet, the Pats managed to get both offensive and defensive rebounds in Tuesday's win. Getting the boards was something they had going for them even when their good looks at a shot weren't going in. Some shots that did go in, however, were a couple of threes from junior Ella Schnieders that afforded the Pats a 19-13 lead at halftime.
Heritage Hills brought it in the third quarter and began to get things going after both teams began another slow start offensively. Lytton and senior Avery Neff converted steals to layups on back-to-back possessions to give the Pats a 27-14 lead; and they enjoyed a 31-14 advantage after three.
Brown credited better defensive rotations as the reasons the Pats turned their defense into offense in the third quarter.
"I think we were anticipating the passes more - being able to jump a few of the screens and getting the hands on the ball, knocking it our way," she said.
The Wildcats notched a couple of threes early on in the final quarter from seniors Libby Steinhart and Paige Robinson, but the Pats held off any comeback attempt in the fourth despite being outscored, 11-8.
"It feels really good - mainly to make it past the first round and have that chance to go all the way," Lytton said.
Heritage Hills will have two days to get ready before its 6:30 p.m. semifinal game Friday against defending champion Evansville Memorial. The Tigers handed the Pats their first loss of the season on Dec. 5, 71-43.
Brown is hoping the Pats will get their offense more fluid on Friday and give it their best shot. She believes, though, that Heritage Hills can be competitive against Evansville Memorial on Friday, even if shots aren't falling in - just like they didn't always fall in against Mount Vernon on Tuesday.
"We just have to find another way - make the extra pass, get a little more penetration, whatever it takes," Brown said.
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