Titans overpower Patriots in second half

Evansville Courier & Press


FORT BRANCH – Once Meredith Raley gets into a zone, there are not many teams who can stop her.

Heritage Hills learned that lesson the hard way on Friday night. The Gibson Southern junior poured in 35 points to lead the Titans past the Patriots, 69-52, in the sectional semifinal at Titan Fieldhouse.

If there is such a thing as a quiet 35-point performance, Raley accomplished it. The 6-foot power forward finished a sparkling 13-of-17 from the field and converted 9-of-10 at the free-throw line.

There wasn’t much the Patriots (17-6) could do.

“When she is in a zone like that, we know we have someone we can go to inside,” said Gibson Southern coach Kyle Brasher. “It really helped tonight, because we were not making shots. It’s great having Meredith on the inside.”

Heritage Hills competed against the hosts for much of the night. Avery Neff drilled a trio of three-pointers to give the Patriots a 15-14 advantage after the first quarter.

The Titans quickly regained the lead early in the second and never gave it up. Leading 27-21 at halftime, Gibson Southern stretched its advantage to double digits behind eight points in the third from Raley.

The game slipped away from Heritage Hills when star sophomore Rebekah Gordon picked up her fourth foul in the second half. There was no one inside to match Raley.

“She is a great player,” said Heritage Hills coach Kim Brown. “If you can somehow stop her inside, she is going to light you up from the outside. When Bekah got in foul trouble, that put us in a world of hurt. They did the right thing by going at us with (Raley). She gets better every year.”

With Gibson leading by six going into the fourth quarter, Raley put the team on her back. The sophomore scored 15 points over the final eight minutes and hit seven of eight free throws.

Raley was far from a one person wrecking crew. Senior Tabby Klem totaled nine points and 13 rebounds, while sophomore Kami Miller had 12 points for the Titans (22-3), who had too many weapons on offense. Gibson Southern came into the semifinal ranked second in the state in scoring.

“They were very aggressive and physical with us,” said Brasher. “It got in our heads in the first half. They came at us and had a great defensive game plan. We talked at halftime about the importance of persevering through that.”

Gordon had 13 points and four rebounds for the Patriots. Morgan Vaal and Neff also chipped in 13 points.

Despite the loss, it remains a successful season for Heritage Hills. After graduating several key members of last year’s 20-win team, the Patriots reloaded for another a strong run.

With only Vaal and Claire Heckel graduating, Heritage Hills is primed to remain strong the next few years.

“I don’t think anybody expected this,” said Brown. “We had a team that believed. To come out with 17 wins after last year, I don’t think anybody believed it but us. They got better throughout the season.”

Gibson Southern faces Memorial in the sectional championship. The Tigers defeated Mount Vernon 59-18 in the other semifinal.

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