South Central, the No. 3 seed in the Willard district, started out strong Saturday against No. 4-seed Danbury for a 51-39 win at Norwalk High School. The Trojans (13-10) advance to Thursday’s 6:15 p.m. district semifinal vs. Lucas (15-9) at Willard High School.
“We tried to set an aggressive attack on them early in the game,” South Central coach John Vogel said. “We made some shots early and that kinda opened it up — and when you get some shots to fall, the defense kinda picks up even more; I was pretty happy with that.
“I lost some girls late in the game, and at times we lost our composure,” he added. “I’m happy the girls carried it through.”
The Norwalk setting didn’t sit so well for No. 2-seed St. Paul, which fell to the No. 6-seeded Cubs in a 54-40 loss. The Lady Flyers ended their season at 13-10.
“I’m proud of them. They played hard tonight and this season,” St. Paul coach Vicky Mahl said. “I told the girls in the locker room I’m proud of them. They didn’t give up; we made some runs.”
South Central senior Maddie Albert led her team with 14 points. She also pulled down six rebounds, and added four steals, two assists and blocked a shot.
Junior Courtney Shepherd had a double-double — 10 points and 10 rebounds. Classmate Holly Hale led the Trojans’ rebounding attack with seven to go with two blocks, two steals and an assist.
“With Ally Burton getting hurt earlier in the season with an ACL injury, Holly has had to step up and do some things off the glass, especially with her defense,” Vogel said. “She’s a really long girl and she’s real active with her hands.”
Senior Sarah Oney grabbed five steals and five rebounds. She also distributed four assists.
“She’s our team leader. She’s our point guard,” Vogel said of Oney. “She got a little bit of an injury at the end of the game, but I think she’s gonna be OK. We’ll have to wait and see. When she’s on the floor, it sets everybody at ease and gives her teammates a lot of good opportunities. When that happens, she gets some opportunities for herself.”
South Central had a convincing 14-3 lead with 3:14 left in the first quarter. Danbury (13-10) surged back, but the Trojans ended the quarter up 16-13.
In the second quarter, South Central outscored the Lakers 17-8 to take a 33-21 lead into halftime. In the first two quarters, three Trojans knocked in six three-pointers.
Danbury ended the third quarter on a 6-0 run, but South Central led 41-29. Each team scored 10 points in the final eight minutes.
South Central traveled to Lucas on Feb. 8, and fell 58-44.
“We didn’t play very well, but I think that gives our kids a little extra fuel to try to work hard in practice this week and get ready for the next one,” Vogel said.
In the earlier game, Lucas sophomore Jessie Grover led all scorers with 21 points. She also earned a double-double by grabbing 14 rebounds. Grover also had three steals.
“We needed to stop her. We didn’t necessarily do that at times; at other times we did,” said Mahl, who knew Grover was going to be tough to defend. “We did get her to foul out. We took it to her and those type of things.”
Junior Ashley Robertson added 12 points for Lucas, which had a 7-0 run to answer the first two points of the night by St. Paul. The Cubs were up 18-10 to end the first quarter.
St. Paul senior Meredith Dilger cut the deficit to 20-19 on a three-point shot with 3:26 left until halftime. About 30 seconds later, the Flyers had their second lead of the game on a layup by senior Kaity Tomshack.
Lucas went into halftime with a 29-23 lead. After a 10-0 run to start the third quarter, the Cubs were up 39-23, essentially putting the game out of reach.
Freshman Camille Endsley scored all four points for St. Paul in the third quarter. Her successful free throw with 1:47 left in the quarter stopped a 12-0 run by Lucas to make it 41-24.
St. Paul matched Lucas with 12 points in the final quarter.
Freshman Danielle Smith led the Flyers with 12 points. Sophomore Megan Hammersmith pulled down 12 rebounds. Classmate Anna Lukasko had six while Tomshack grabbed four. Dilger added nine points.
Follow Reflector staff writer Cary Ashby on Twitter at @Cary_reporter and on Facebook at “Cary Ashby — reporter & comic book blogger.”