BY CHAD DARE
VEEDERSBURG, Ind. —
Seeger senior Kirsten Irvine isn’t known for her 3-point shooting ability.
Irvine, who has only attempted about a dozen shots from behind the arc this season, picked the perfect time to shoot her only long-ranged shot on Friday night.
Her 3-pointer with 33 seconds remaining helped lead the Patriots past the Carroll Cougars, 31-30, and into tonight’s sectional championship game.
“I didn’t see anyone on me, so I just took the shot,’’ said Irvine.
But, you hadn’t even tried a 3-pointer before that, why then?
“I don’t know,’’ she answered “It was just a spur of the moment thing and I went for it.’’
It’s actually something that Seeger coach Brent Rademacher wouldn’t mind seeing a little more from his 5-foot-8 senior.
“Kirsten has only taken 10 or 12 3-pointers all year, but she is shooting about 30 percent from there,’’ he said. “I was definitely hoping it was going in when she shot it, but I wasn’t standing there saying, no, no, no.
“That’s what you want your seniors player to do in those situations.’’
Ironically, Rademacher pointed that Irvine missed a much-shorter shot on the Patriots (18-7 overall) previous possession.
“My parents were just giving me a hard time about that as well,’’ said Irvine with a big smile on her face after the game. “My teammates were the ones in the lockerroom telling me to come out with confidence in the second half.
“That’s why I took the shot.’’
Seeger had to overcome a horrendous start as Carroll (14-8) built a 12-3 lead just 9 minutes, 30 seconds into Friday’s semifinal contest.
“It was kind of like Tuesday night,’’ said Rademacher of Seeger’s 31-22 win over Sheridan in the opening round. “We missed a couple of easy shots and we couldn’t get anything to fall from outside.’’
The Patriots made just 1 of their first 13 shots before Irvine hit a short jumper with 3:01 left in the first half.
“We weren’t working together as a team,’’ Irvine said.
Seeger went on an 8-0 run, closing within 12-11 but Carroll’s Carley Kingery hit at shot at the buzzer to give the Cougars a 14-11 halftime lead.
“Luckily our defense was fairly solid,’’ Rademacher aid. “We stayed close and we were able to keep chipping away in the second half.’’
The third quarter belonged to Seeger’s Miranda Synesael.
The 5-foot-10 junior scored 11 of her game-high 20 points helping the Patriots overcome the halftime deficit and take a 24-22 lead.
“She pretty much put us on her back in the third quarter,’’ Rademacher said. “She kept us in the game and got us a lead.
“She played like a senior tonight and she is only a junior.’’
Synesael, who had made just two of her first eight shots, made 7-of-8 in the second half.
“We came out with a lot more enthusiasm, ready to go and we just changed our attitudes about the whole game,’’ she said. “We got down, but we had to get ourselves back up together.’’
But isn’t your confidence curtailed after making just 4-of-17 shots in the first half?
“Yes, it does, but if we don’t keep shooting, we’re not going to score any points,’’ Synesael said. “So, we just had to keep going for it.’’
Carroll had one last opportunity to win the game in the final seconds, but Kaitlin Ragan, who had scored six fourth-quarter points, wasn’t able to get a shot off at the buzzer.
With the victory, Seeger will play in its fourth straight sectional championship game tonight and the Patriots will be looking for their third straight title.
“It’s a testament to this senior group — they have waited three years for this opportunity,’’ Rademacher said. “Going into the season, not a lot of people gave us a lot of hope because of what we lost. These kids learned a lot from last year’s group and they have kept getting better and better all year long. I’m really happy for them.’’
Irvine admitted she wants to prove everyone wrong that thought Seeger girls basketball couldn’t win a sectional title after graduating six players from last year’s regional championship team.
“Everyone figured we would be out in the first game, just because we lost six players from last year’s team. That doesn’t mean we don’t still have talent on the team,’’ she said. “This whole team wants to prove that we’re still a good basketball team.’’
Seeger will play Delphi, a 46-23 winner over Clinton Central, in tonight’s sectional championship game at Fountain Central High School. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. (EASTERN).