Annawan continued its postseason march in the Oglesby Class 1A girls’ basketball sectional, but Putnam County saw the curtain close on its season Monday.
The Annawan Bravettes, ranked No. 2 in the state, derailed Newark 46-21. PC fell to Hinckley-Big Rock 42-30 in the night’s opener.
Annawan and HBR will meet for the sectional championship at 7:30 p.m. Thursday on the Hilltop.
Annawan 46, Newark 21: The Bravettes’ trademark 1-3-1 zone defense held Newark to two points in the second quarter to turn an 8-4 deficit into a 25-10 halftime lead. Annawan forced 10 turnovers in the first quarter alone and 25 overall.
“We count on that defense,” Annawan coach Jason Burkiewicz told the Ottawa Times. “It seems in every game, we come up with one quarter where we hold the other team to less than five points, and in the second quarter they had what? Two? That was big, even though we weren’t knocking down the shots we would have liked. We were able to suffocate them and create some breathing room for us.”
Newark standout Luaren Tollefson said the Lady Norseman had never seen a defense like that.
“Annawan is a very, very good basketball team. But we have nothing to hang our heads about. We set a bunch of school records and we’ve hopefully made our fans proud. We just came up against a better team tonight. Credit Annawan.”
“Sometimes you run into tough competition,” Newark coach Dale Skelton said. “Tonight we ran into a better team than we were.”
Celina VanHyfte, Annawan’s 6-foot junior All-State center, led the Bravettes with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Megan Foes added 12 points.
HBR 42, Putnam County 31: While Newark was unable to carry the Little Ten colors, HBR did in the nightcap. The Royals built a 19-12 halftime lead and never looked back, capping its semifinal with a 10-2 fourth quarter surge.
The Panthers got momentum early in the second half with three-pointers from Daniela Pavlovich and Stephanie Wilson, but HBR withstood the rally, and the game never was in doubt during the fourth quarter.
PC bows out at 24-5, winning its first regional championship since 1984.
“I told the girls after the game that it was OK to feel the way they were feeling, I told them remember that feeling and use it to become better,” Barnett said. “I also reminded them of everything that we accomplished over the season. We placed in every tournament that we were in, winning the Princeville Tournament and our regional. Finishing the season with a 24-5 record, the second best in school history.
“Now we have the opportunity that many schools do not have, we get everyone back to build off of for next year. As for the future of the program, I believe that we have it headed in the right direction from top to bottom.”
HBR coach Greg Burks said his Royals had possibly their best defensive effort of the season, taking smart gambles to force turnovers and playing good help defense. HBR also maintained the tempo the way Burks wanted, keeping it steady and not getting into a track meet with the Panthers.
“I thought that the girls played extremely hard throughout the entire game. We didn’t execute as well as we needed to. Hinckley was very prepared and took away some of the things that we do well,” PC coach James Barnett said. “I thought we made a good counter at halftime and were able to pull back into the game, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
The Lady Panthers were led by Carly Gonet with nine points and Daniela Pavlovich with seven.
Abby Tosch led the Royals (18-12) with 19 point and Lauren Paver added 14.
HBR, a team with only two seniors, will play for its fourth sectional title in the past five years on Thursday.
In other 1A sectionals of note, Three Rivers Conference champ Prophetstown fell to defending state champ and No. 1 ranked Freeport Aquin 49-44 at Hanover. The Three Rivers’ Riverdale rams were overpowered by sixth-ranked Byron at Somonauk, losing 69-36.