WINAMAC - In what was billed as a defensive battle, both LaVille and Andrean met the expectation in the first-ever meeting between the two teams on the basketball court.
The Lancers and 59ers won their respective sectionals and traveled to the Indiana High School Athletic Association Winamac Regional Saturday, with the winner advancing to the semi-state round on February 17.
Andrean and LaVille came into the mid-afternoon contest with areas being similar and areas not so similar.
Coach Tony Scheub's Niners had the tournament experience on their side with 14 sectional titles, including the last five straight, and three regionals. They also had a size advantage on the youthful Lancer team.
It was a physical battle on both ends of the floor, a low-scoring affair throughout, and a game that ultimately was decided by the Andrean defense and free throw shooting as the Lancers fell short, 31-26. It was the first regional appearance in 21 years for LHS.
The 59ers closed the first quarter with a 5-4 lead, then went into halftime with a 11-10 advantage. The Lancer defense continued to rely on its tough defensive play, holding Maddie Walton, Andrean's 6'1" junior post player, to just two first-half points. She spent most of the first half on the bench with two fouls.
With the Niners leading scorer sitting on the bench, LaVille's Mikalah Kuskye continued to track point-guard and Andrean's second leading scorer Lindsay Arcella. Kuskye pressured and harassed Arcella into a technical foul early
in the game and limited her to just six first-half points.
It was Scheub's squad that cranked down the defensive screws in the third quarter. While Andrean was able to connect on 4 of the 7 from the field to go with four free throws, the Lancers could not convert 13 field goal attempts in the preiod The 59ers outscored LaVille 12-0 to take a 23-10 lead to start the fourth quarter.
Though it may have looked like the game was over, LaVille had plenty of fight in the final eight minutes.
AHS pushed the lead to 27-12 after an 8-footer by Walton before the Lancer comeback started.
Brooke Edison hit a runner and was fouled with 5:17 left to close the gap to 29-15.
London Kwiatkowski tried to knife her way between a pair of defenders before being fouled at the 4:10 mark. She hit both free throws and the margin was trimmed to 29-17.
Edison then swished a 3-point bomb to move the lead under double figures - 29-20 - with 2:55 left in the fourth.
Ava Weil and Edison then made the best of two charity tosses each over the next 54 seconds. Weil hit two freebies, while Edison added one of her own and the Andrean advantage was 29-23.
Following a fould on LaVille, Andrean prepared to inbound in front of their team bench, but LaVille's Lily Smith swiped the 59er pass and pushed the ball up the floor. Smith passed to Edison, who dribbled to the middle of the lane. Andrean collapsed to double-team, but Edison quickly pushed a pass to Smith. The 5'8" guard took a dribble step toward the basket, got her feet set and scored the triple to make it a one possession game at 29-26. There was 1:08 showing on the clock.
LHS outscored Andrean 14-2 over a five minute span to close to within three points. The Lancer defense forced deflections and turnovers and hit crucial shots during the run that made for exciting basketball.
LaVille had three more looks from 3-point range that were on line but would not fall. The Lancers also had chances from the free throw line over the final 2:51, but converted just 3 of 8 tosses.
Edison led the Lancer offense with 13 points, including 9 in the fourth quarter. Smith closed out her career with 5 points and a much-needed hit from long range. Kwiatkowski finished up with 3 points, Foster also had 3, and Weil 2.
LaVille closed the 2023-24 season with a 12-12 overall record.
2A WINAMAC REGIONAL
Andrean 31, LaVille 26
Score By Quarters
Winamac 5 11 23 31
LaVille 4 10 10 26
Andrean - Lindsay Arcella 17, Liv Delevic 0, Alesi Rodriguez 0, Maddie Walton 9, Ashlee Evans 0, Helen Weber 2, Lailoni Staten 0, Aubrey Grasha 3. Totals: 11 7-10 31
LaVille - Lily Smith 5, Mackena Deason 0, Ava Weil 2, Brooke Edison 13, Mikalah Kuslye 0, London Kwiatkowski 3, Jasmine Foster 3. Totals: 7 10-21 26
3-point field goals: Andrean 2 (Arcella, Grasha), LaVille 2 (Smith, Edison)
Team records: Andrean 13-14, LaVille 12-12 (final)