Havana’s physical play slows Brown County in season-ending loss in sectional title game
ABINGDON, Ill. — Dave Phelps tried to highlight the Brown County girls basketball team’s laundry list of accomplishments this season during his postgame speech Thursday night.
Those aren’t easy to see through tears.
A record-setting 31-win season and the second Sweet 16 appearance in program history came to an end in the Class 1A Abingdon Sectional championship game as Havana enacted a dose of revenge with a 40-34 victory.
The Hornets beat the Ducks in last year’s regional championship and again in the semifinals of the Beardstown Lady Tiger Classic in December. This time, however, Havana’s physicality and aggressiveness won out.
“Havana is so physical,” said Phelps, who led the Hornets to back-to-back sectional appearances in now his 10th season as head coach. “I know with postseason basketball things are allowed to be a little more physical than they are in the regular season, but we just couldn’t handle for the most part how physical they were with us.
“Grabbing and pulling and bodying us, we just didn’t have an answer for it.”
It kept the Hornets (31-4) from fully engaging offensively and proved disastrous on the glass.
The Ducks, who take a 32-4 record into a matchup with Okawville on Monday in the Mount Sterling Super-Sectional, had nine of their 12 offensive rebounds in the second half, parlaying those into seven second-chance points.
Moreso, the physical play kept Brown County from scoring at a critical juncture.
The Hornets closed within 32-30 after Gracie Hedden scored on a turnaround jumper from the left block with 5:18 remaining in the fourth quarter. Brown County failed to score on its next six possessions, enabling Havana to go up 36-30.
Back-to-back quality possessions — Ashlee Markert scored on a layin and Klare Flynn made two free throws — pulled the Hornets with 36-34 with 53.7 seconds to go, but the Ducks scored on their final three possessions while the Hornets missed three shots and turned the ball over once.
“It was close, so close where it went back and forth for so much of the game,” Phelps said. “We never seemed to be able to string together two or three possessions in a row to get momentum on our side and hold onto it. They’d come back with a couple big buckets of their own.”
Klare Flynn led the Hornets with 10 points, while Hedden added nine. Taryn Wickman led the Ducks with 14 points, while Josie Hughes added 10.
“I told them I was proud of them and to keep their heads up,” Phelps said. “I was proud of how resilient they were and how hard they fought. We just didn’t have it tonight. We could have talked about all the things we did wrong or the mistakes you made, but why do that when we can talk about the great things that happened.
“You can’t go back and change anything that happened during the game. Let’s not dwell on them. Let’s be happy and celebrate the kind of season that we had.”
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