Falcons photo

McKenzie Crowder of North Vermillion dives for a loose ball that had been intended for Abby Swaney of Covington. North Vermillion defeated Covington 41-39 to advance to the sectional championship game.

ATTICA, Ind. — The 1A sectional 54 semifinal between Covington and North Vermillion came down to the wire with the Falcons coming out on top 41-39, but not before the Trojans had a chance for the win.

With 14 seconds left in the game, McKenzie Crowder not only put the Falcons ahead 40-36 with a three-point play, but she reached the 1,000-point mark of her career at the same time.

Covington then got the ball to Shiann Haymaker and the sophomore drilled a three-pointer with four seconds left for a 40-39 score.

When North Vermillion inbounded the ball, the Trojans immediately fouled.

Rylee Dowers went to the line and made the first free throw, but the second was no good due to a lane violation that gave the ball to Covington with 2.7 seconds left.

Travis Brown, the Trojan head coach called a timeout to set up a play that started under the Falcon basket.

Covington made two passes and got the ball to Reese Noble and the senior had no choice but to fling up a shot from three-quarter court that ended up short and left as the horn sounded to give victory to the Falcons 41-39.

Brown, speaking after the game, said his team did everything the coaches asked them to do.

“I don’t know if we could have played any better,” he said, “but I’m proud of the team and the effort they made.”

His team started the game about as well as could have hoped, going up 3-2 on a trey from Haymaker and then outscoring the Falcons 7-2 for a 10-4 lead after Noble hit a three-pointer off a pass from Hope Linville.

North Vermillion responded with a 6-2 spurt just before the quarter ended, getting baskets from Brianna West, Ava Martin and Dowers to be only down two at 12-10.

The second period saw the Falcons go up by five on a 7-0 run capped by a trey from Crowder, but Covington came right back with four straight baskets before North Vermillion ended the half on a pair of free throws by Cami Pearman to trail 20-19 at the intermission.

Falcon head coach Mark Switzer said he did not like the intensity of his defense in the first half, but that things got better in the second with his squad better able to force turnovers.

The teams traded the lead in the opening moments of the third quarter, but then Covington began to pull away with a 7-2 run that made the score 27-21 with 3:25 left in the period.

North Vermillion fell behind by seven with 1:48 left, but then closed out the quarter with two baskets, one from Crowder and the other from Martin off a pass from Dowers for a 29-26 Covington lead.

Dowers opened the fourth with a putback, but Noble hit a trey for the Trojans to go up four at 32-28 only to see Dowers match the shot to pull the Falcons within one.

Crowder made a lay-up with 5:10 left to put North Vermillion in the lead at 33-32 and then Dowers added two free throws to go up three.

Haymaker cut the margin to two with a free throw and then Holly Linville tied the game for the Trojans at 35-all with 1:44 left.

Noble added a free throw for Covington for the final lead for the Trojans with 50 seconds left, but Martin got a put back to give the Falcons as 37-36 lead.

It was then that Crowder converted the three-point play that gave her team the lead going into the play described earlier.

Asked about getting to the 1000-point mark, Crowder said, “It’s the toughest thing I had to do. I had chances, but they wouldn’t fall. I’m glad I finally got it so tomorrow I won’t have that pressure on me.”

The Falcons will take on Clinton Central at 7:30 p.m. eastern today at Attica in a game that the Bulldogs are 1.5-point favorites.

Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at: gfphoto@gfphoto web.com

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