By CHRIS STONER
They don’t call it the Pressure Cooker for nothing.
Silver Creek built a seven-point second half lead, but host Scottsburg rallied and barely nipped the Dragons 43-42 in the second semifinal of the class 3A sectional on Friday night.
The Warriorettes (15-7) will play Corydon Central (18-5) in tonight’s championship game. The Panthers defeated Brownstown (8-11) Central 43-38 in the first semifinal for their 10th straight win.
With the game knotted at 42-42, Scottsburg’s Katie Wampler hit 1-of-2 free throws to give her squad a slim one-point lead.
At the other end, it came down to a Silver Creek (16-7) inbound play with 1.7 seconds remaining. Emily Clayton was fouled but missed the front end of the bonus and the classic Hoosier Hysteria contest was over.
“ I told Emily that I wouldn’t want anyone else out there shooting those,” Dragons head coach Scott Schoen said. “Misses happen. It’s part of the game.”
Scottsburg came out on fire in the opening frame, shooting 8-of-11 and led 19-7 at the end of one. Ashley Elliott poured in 10 straight points, including two triples, in the final three minutes of the first quarter to power the Warriorettes.
“This group will never go down without a fight,” Schoen said of his squad. “When we got down 12 early, I knew it was a long game. We got off to a slow start, but then our defense settled in and we made that run. We made shots. We’ve got good players.”
The run Schoen spoke of was a phenominal stretch for the Dragons. From the start of the second frame until a Scottsburg timeout at 5:39 in the third, Creek outscored the Warriorettes 23-3 for a 29-22 advantage. The Creekers’ stellar defense held Scottsburg to 1-of-14 shooting during the spurt.
“In that stretch, we started passing the basketball,” Schoen said. “We knew if we could handle their pressure, we could shoot layups all night and we did that in that span. We attacked and got some layups. Then we got away from that. We panicked a little bit when they turned their pressure up.”
After the timeout, Scottsburg ended the third frame with a 10-2 run to claim a 32-31 lead heading to the fourth.
“We adjusted the defense some, but we really adjusted the offense,” Warriorettes head coach Donna Cheatham said. “We tried to rearrange what we were doing offensively. Our Achilles’ heel this year has always been that we’re always going to have a bad quarter. It’s just inevitable. I keep hoping we’ll work out of that, but when we lost our point guard [Jillian Romero], that hurt us. I think we missed her a lot tonight.”
Senior Alex Tinsley led the Dragons in scoring with 15 and held Scottsburg’s leading scoring, Katie Wampler, to just six points. Fellow-Silver Creek senior Alexis McFarland had 10 and hit three more bombs, bringing her total to seven in two sectional games.
“Alex has just been playing better and better,” Schoen said. “She’s been a rock for us. I’m so proud of her. There’s a college out there that’s missing out on her. I’m amazed she’s not getting anymore looks than she’s getting. There’s some idiotic coaches out there if they don’t think she can play at the next level because she’s special. She’s a hell of a player.”
The Dragons lose five seniors from this year’s team — five young ladies that are dear to Schoen and his staff.
“It’s hard. This group has been with me since I got here three years ago,” Schoen said. “I’ve never coached anybody else. These seniors are a special group. They care for each other. They’ll be OK with this tonight because they’re so special. They’ve been great role models for our younger players.”