BY GREG FLINT
LAPEL, Ind. —
It was only two minutes — two minutes out of the thirty-two that Seeger and Wabash played in their 2A regional opener.
If the Patriots could only play those two minutes over again, they might be in the regional final. They cannot, however, get a “do over” and they find themselves looking back at the wrong end of a 42-37 score.
Seeger came out in a triangle-and-two defense and after an opening basket by Wabash, the Patriots scored on a trey by Miranda Synesael and a putback by Shelby Brown to take an early lead.
Brown would score again after an Apache basket to put the Patriots up 7-4, but Wabash came back to lead 9-7 after one quarter.
The second period started as if it would be one that Seeger fans would remember fondly as the Patriots tied the game on a lay-up by Kiley Swisher then took the lead on free throws by Kirsten Irving and another basket by Brown.
With the quarter more than half-gone and Wabash scoreless in the period, the Apaches finally put in two baskets to tie the game, but Synesael answered with a pair of free throws to make it 15-13.
Then came the 40 seconds the Patriots might like to replay. In that span, Kyleigh Hampton of the Apache hit two three-pointers from almost the identical location give her team a 19-15 lead at halftime.
Seeger seemed more aggressive offensively when they came out in the third quarter, with Irvine hitting Swisher with a pass for a basket that cut the margin to two.
Then came the other 80 seconds Seeger would like to replay. In four straight possessions where they had a chance to tie, they had unforced turnovers on three of them that led to a six-point lead by Wabash – a deficit that the Patriots were never able to overcome.
“I think we were tired and it hurt us at the start of the third quarter,” said Seeger head coach Brent Rademacher. “We just couldn’t do what we wanted to do.”
Perhaps the reason for the Patriots being tired was that starter Irvine was battling the flu and they were also without freshman defensive specialist Hannah Gustus, who was out with concussion symptoms.
Irvine may have had the flu, but she trigger a comeback attempt when she blocked a shot, grabbed it, raced the length of the court and went to the line to hit two free throws to cut the margin to four.
Unfortunately for Seeger, Wabash then hit a trey to end the third quarter up 30-23.
The Apache seemed to go into a partial delay game in the fourth quarter, but it paid off for the Patriots as they turned the ball over to Seeger.
That led to baskets by Swisher on a backdoor pass from Brown then Irvine hit a lay-up to make it 30-27 with 4:25 left.
After Wabash hit a basket to halt the run, they decided to go into a full-blown delay game when they got the ball back.
Seeger had no choice but to foul and Wabash upped their lead to eight points before Swisher hit a three and Irvine converted a three-point play to pull the Patriots within two with 42 seconds left.
The remainder of the game was a free throw shooting contest with Wabash making enough to hold off a final Patriot surge that saw them draw to within three with seven seconds left.
After the game, Rademacher said his team had played good defense, but said his squad could not get the turnovers they were used to getting – again where being shorthanded hurt his team.
This was a team that some so-called experts said could not win a sectional after losing some key players to graduation.
That has been a motivator for the players, but something that Rademacher also addressed.
“You know, he and I [point to assistant coach Dave Brown] consider ourselves experts on this team and we thought early that if we progressed we could win the sectional again – so it’s not a surprise to us.”
He concluded by saying, “I’m proud of this team. They got better all season. We came within a possession of winning three more games and we learned from them. It paid off when we got into close games in the sectional.”
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org