BY CHAD DARE
VEEDERSBURG, Ind. —
Seeger senior Kirsten Irvine had a simple message for anyone that doubted the Lady Patriots at the start of the season.
“I can look back at all of the people that doubted us and show them our sectional title now,’’ she said.
In Saturday’s Fountain Central Sectional 38 championship game, Irvine scored a game-high 12 points to lead Seeger past Delphi, 39-31 in overtime.
It’s the third straight sectional title for the Lady Patriots and it’s the 12th title in school history.
“They keep getting sweeter, to be honest with you,’’ Seeger coach Brett Rademacher said. “It never gets old.
“But, I’m so happy for this group of seniors. They waited three years for their opportunity and they were the ones that won this game and Miranda (Synesael) as a junior. I can’t say enough about how they developed this year.’’
Irvine along with senior starters Taylor Griswold and Shelby Brown all played key roles in Saturday’s victory.
While Irvine had the scoring, Griswold made her contribution on the defensive end while Brown hit the big shot in the final minute to help get the game into overtime.
Not bad considering that they spent most of the past two seasons watching from the bench as Seeger reached the Class 2A semi-state tournament.
“We lost a lot off of last year’s team,’’ said Rademacher as the Patriots graduated six players off of that team. “At our banquet at the end of the year, I told this group of seniors that this was their time to shine.
“They worked hard all summer and they kept gelling all year long.’’
Griswold admitted the previous Seeger teams played a key role in Saturday’s victory.
“They helped us a lot,’’ she said. “They got us prepared for this year and we took it upon ourselves to keep things going.’’
Brown added, “so much was expected of us, and it’s a really good feeling to live up to those expectations.’’
And while Griswold and Brown combined to score just seven points, their biggest roles came on the defensive end for the Patriots, who improved to 19-7 overall.
Griswold had the main responsibility of guarding Delphi senior Summer Sutton, who had 18 points in the Oracles semifinal win over Clinton Central.
“I’m not much of a scorer. My duties are rebounding and defense. We did well in those areas,’’ Griswold said. “As a team, you have to do your part and that’s mine.
“Each person on our team did their part and that’s why we won.’’
Sutton finished with just eight points and the 5-foot-10 forward was 2-for-13 from the field against Seeger.
“Without her on the court, we don’t win this game,’’ Rademacher said of Griswold. “She only scored one point but she was able to hold Sutton in check. She was our strong big kid that could body up on her and try to keep her off the block. We also had to get some help on her.’’
And it was Brown that provided that help at times. She also scored all six of her points in the second half.
“We practiced a lot on how we were going to try to stop her,’’ Brown said. “We’re a team that relies on good help defense, so this game plan went right along with what we normally do.’’
Sutton did his 1-of-2 free throws with 15.6 seconds left to tie the game at 29-29, sending it into overtime when Synesael’s 3-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark.
That might not have been the best news for the Patriots.
“This was our third overtime game of the season, and we lost the first two,’’ said Rademacher as Seeger lost to North Montgomery and Attica in its previous two games that required extra time. “I think we learned some things from those first two that helped.’’
The biggest thing that Seeger learned was getting off to a good start.
Irvine hit a jumper just seconds into the extra session, giving the Patriots a lead they would never relinquish.
“During the timeout, I told them that we had to go out with confidence,’’ said Irvine to her teammates. “Delphi looked tired to me and we just jumped on them from the first possession.’’
Irvine also had a key assist in the extra session as Seeger made a minor adjustment in its offense.
“We got Kristin Irvine in the middle of their defense,’’ Rademacher said. “She was able to create some things. She created some offense that we needed.’’
Delphi, which ends its season at 11-13, rallied from a 10-point deficit to take the lead, but coach Dan Dawson said it was the early struggles that cost the Oracles.
“We had an opportunity, we just didn’t get it done,’’ he said. “We struggled all year against a half-court trap defense and Seeger did a nice job against us tonight with that game plan.
“We only gave up 15 first-half points, which was great defense, but we only had nine and we turned it over way too much.’’
Delphi had 13 of its 20 turnovers in the first two quarters.
With the victory, the Patriots advance to the Lapel Regional next Saturday where Seeger will play Wabash (17-6) in a 10 a.m. (Eastern) game.