BY JOHN DUBOIS
Beginning with a third place finish at the Comet Classic in November, the Georgetown-Ridge Farm Lady Buffaloes had one of the best regular seasons in school history.
The Buffaloes advanced to the championship game of the Vermilion County Tournament for the first time in 15 years, they won a conference championship for the first time in 22 years, and in three seasons under coach Michelle Brooks, the No. 2-seeded Buffaloes have improved from a four win team to become the second most successful team (21 wins) in school history this season.
Coming off their third regional game win in the last 10 years on Tuesday night, the Buffaloes faced the top seeded St. Joseph-Ogden Lady Spartans Thursday night at the IHSA Class 2A regional in Westville for a chance to win their first regional championship since the 1991 team made it all the way to the state finals.
The Buffaloes got out to a solid start in the opening minutes, but the Spartans took control midway through the first quarter and cruised to a 61-33 win.
Callan Hall led the Buffaloes with nine points, with Catie Brandt adding seven points. Maya Green and Brittany Hay had six points each, while Hannah Brandt added five points off the bench.
“We came out strong, but after we missed a couple of shots we began to second guess and doubt ourselves,” said Brooks. “St. Joseph has a complete package offensively with a good outside game, alot of speed, and some inside game. We dug ourselves to big of a hole to get out of.”
The Buffaloes took their second and final lead of the game at 4-3 on a basket by Hall. The Spartans would close out the first quarter on a 10-0 run and took a 13-4 lead into the second quarter.
Hall would score an early basket and Green hit a three, but the Buffaloes couldn’t get their offense going in the quarter as the Spartans closed on a 9-0 run to take a 31-11 lead into halftime.
“We changed our defense a couple of times in the first half, but when we could get one outside shooter under control another would pop up and hit a shot, or they would get the ball inside,” Brooks said. “I told our team at halftime to believe in themselves and to play together. At times in the first half, we were beating ourselves mentally. Our press was effective at times, but when we did get steals we weren’t converting. Their half-court defense is very strong and we couldn’t get many good shots.”
The Buffaloes got out to a good start in the third on a pair of baskets from Hall and one from Hay, but the Spartans were still able to build a 28-point lead, and took a 47-21 advantage into the fourth.
The Buffaloes would have their best offensive quarter in the fourth scoring 12 points.
“As we walk away from a game like this and think back on the seasonm we had you immediately think of our three seniors — Catie Brandt, Maya Green, and Callan Hall,” Brooks said. “They are the group that started this turnaround for Georgetown basketball. They are the spark that led us to this winning season.
“They are smart, hard working kids and I don’t think you could ask for a better group. I don’t think between them they have missed a day of practice in three years. Being a part of the 1991 team made me want to become a coach, and it is a privilege to be able to coach at Georgetown. I am very proud that we have been able to be a part of the turnaround in Georgetown sports over the past few years.”
The Buffaloes finish the season at 21-5.
“We lose three starters, but we have a good core group coming back,” Brooks said. “Brittany and Lexi Ovall are returning starters and we have Hannah Brandt and Kayla Wolpert, who played significant minutes. If we do what we need to do over the summer, we will be ready to go next season.”