MORAVIA – The Diagonal girls basketball team had the challenge of going up against the No. 13 team in Class 1A, Seymour, for the second time this season. This time in the Bluegrass Conference Tournament finals.
Just like their first meeting, Diagonal played a competitive half with Seymour, but struggled in the other, falling 57-38 in the conference championship.
The first half was a competitive, no-holds barred slugfest as the two teams traded baskets when they avoided the early game jitters.
Outside of a handful of turnovers for either squad, the Maroonettes found their stride from beyond the arc, hitting 3-pointers on three straight possessions to knot the contest at 15.
After falling behind by nine points, 32-23, midway through the second quarter Diagonal, closed the gap to six thanks to a 3-pointer from Erin Sobotka and two free throws off the hands of Katie Sobotka to make it 34-28 at the halftime intermission.
Diagonal's four 3-pointers in the first half kept the Maroonettes within striking distance, but they didn't have the same fortune in the second half.
"We missed some shots from the outside," said Diagonal head coach Gina Warren. "We got our opportunities to hit the outside shot ... Just kind of chucked up some shots and you can’t do that against a good team. We didn’t get this far doing that."
The second half, Seymour showed why it is the only undefeated team left standing in the conference. The Warriorettes' inside presence overmatched the Maroonettes as multiple blocks from Seymour's Acey Jellison led to baskets on the other end.
The most deflating block came right before the final basket of the third quarter when Jellison's block led to a Katie George basket in the paint. Jellison and George finished with 17 and 16 points, respectively.
A lot of Seymour's offensive success came in the paint with the Warriorettes' two main contributors finding success on the inside, along with Payton Jellison, who added three more baskets down low.
By the end of the third quarter, Seymour had pushed its lead to 13, 46-33 and its defensive aggressiveness had worn on a tired Diagonal squad.
Seymour pressed Diagonal early in the contest, but backed off for most of the second half.
Seymour head coach Paul Hinners noticed a defensive mismatch that he thought allowed the Warriorettes to gain such an edge inside.
"Then they changed it up a little bit, they brought (Taylor) out and tried to get it to (Emily) Newton and that kind of helped us out because we got to bring Payton back in because she (Taylor) wasn’t a threat outside," said Hinners.
The change allowed Seymour to double-team any Diagonal player that tried to make their way inside.
The half court pressure was enough to force multiple steals before eventually causing Diagonal's leading scorer, Katie Sobotka, to foul out with 4:14 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Katie and the other Diagonal starters showed their fatigue in the fourth quarter and it was something Warren noticed.
"We started showing some gas," said Warren about the Maroonettes down-the-stretch play. "Basically the five girls that stay on the floor and not much substitution and just starting showing fatigue."
Newton and both Sobotkas were the three Maroonettes to finish in double-digit points scored.
Though winning the conference was a goal for Diagonal, Warren knows they still have to continue to look forward.
"You set different goals in life," said Warren. "So that's just what i told them is we are moving on to a new goal. We have plenty of season left and got to start on Monday."
Running score by quarter
Sey – 23 34 46 57
Diag – 19 28 33 38
Sey (FG FT PTS) – Totals 25 4-7 57. Acey Jellison 7 3-4 17, Katie George 7 0-0 16, Hannah Hinners 5 0-1 10, Payton Jellison 3 1-2 7, Riley Jewett 3 0-0 6. 3-point goals – 2 (George 2). Team fouls – 14. Fouled out – A. Jellison.
Diag (FG FT PTS) – Totals – 13 7-10 38. Emily Newton 4 2-4 11, Katie Sobotka 4 1-2 10, Erin Sobotka 3 2-2 10, Cassidy Lohmann 1 2-2 5, Bailey Taylor 1 0-0 2. 3-point goals – 5 (E. Sobotka 2, K. Sobotka 1, Lohmann 1, Newton 1). Team fouls – 12. Fouled out – K. Sobotka.