Lady Devils fall to Indians in semifinals
MANLIUS — The Hall and Winnebago girls basketball teams would make for a good tennis match. They have had a good volley when it comes to sectional semifinal play the past three years, with Winnebago winning in 2016 and Hall returning serve in 2017.
After Monday, it’s advantage Winnebago.
The Indians (17-12) returned the favor by defeating the Lady Devils 47-43 at the Storm Cellar Monday in the Bureau Valley Sectional. The Lady Devils (23-7) rallied within two points late, but in the end couldn’t make up for a cold-shooting night.
“I wished we would have shot the ball a little bit better. They made more shots than we did, and that was the difference, and it usually is in girls basketball,” Hall coach Brian Holman said.
“We were down seven with two minutes and fought back within (one possession). That’s what good teams do, and we’re a good team.”
Senior Madi Soldati, who also played on Hall’s last two regional championships, was sad to see it end.
“It really hits you at the end. Having Holman for four years, and knowing next year, I’m not going to see him, ever, unless I come back for games,” she said. “Taking Jaci (Cinotte) in as a freshman, and seeing the girls every day is pretty hard, for four years and going to the gym playing basketball, yeah (it’s pretty sad).”
Soldati joked that she’d have Holman’s voice wired in the back of her head.
“I’m gonna miss him. It’s going to be hard,” she said.
It didn’t look good for Hall going into the fourth quarter down 40-33. However, Hall’s Hanah Hart scored first with a basket, and junior point guard Tori Bogatitus added a 3-pointer to make it 42-38 with 4:21 to play.
Winnebago pushed back ahead 45-38, but yet the Lady Devils would not go away. Hanah Hart hooped again at the 1:40 mark, and Soldati, who had missed her first eight 3-point attempts of the night, connected with 1:20 left to make it 45-43.
Holman said Soldati was feeling the affects of being sick and not playing up to her normal self, but knew the Lady Devils had to have her at the end.
“I had to take her out a couple times in the fourth quarter to get her mental state back in order. She was struggling. She didn’t have it. She was winded, and she’s never winded,” Holman said.
“Yeah, she just had to keep shooting. She had a couple good looks. She made the one and got us within (one possession). That’s what you ask for from your senior, your leader. Give yourself a chance, and she did. She did it all year, did it for four years now.”
The sophomore Hart kept the Lady Devils in the game, scoring 20 points on the strength of 10-13 free throw shooting and gave Hall fans a glimpse of what is to come the next two years.
“That was kind of our game plan to try to get her in mismatches,” Holman said. “We knew they would try to face guard her a little bit, then go zone. We kind of found her some holes. She missed some shots she usually makes. We got her in some spots as a sophomore, a lot of responsibilities, we say, ‘Hey, we’re looking for you,’ and she really picked it up. … There’s bright spots in her future.”
Hart scored Hall’s first seven points of the third quarter, converting a 3-point play and then a free-throw-line jumper to pull the Lady Devils within 28-27 with 4:39 to play in the third quarter.
Hart’s cousin, Janessa Hart, added a pair of buckets to keep it close at 35-33, but the Indians hit a 2-pointer and a 3-pointer to take a 40-33 lead into the fourth quarter.
Holman and Soldati said the Lady Devils surprised people by winning another regional after losing four starters from a year ago.
“We were (23-7), most people wouldn’t have expected that. Some people wouldn’t have expected a regional championship, but we got that, too,” Soldati said.
“Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected 23-7, winning a conference championship, winning a regional. I just didn’t. I knew how much we lost, everybody else did,” Holman said.
Winnebago advances to Thursday’s sectional championship against Elgin Harvest Christian (27-4), which beat Seneca 53-39 in the first semifinal of the night.
“They’re not a 17-12 team. They went through a lot of injuries. They’ve been to sectionals three years in a row, just like us. And sometimes you get beat by a good team and that just happened tonight,” Holman said.
• Notes: Soldati will get to return in Thursday’ sectional 3-Point Contest Showdown along with Princeton’s Julia Hochstatter and Bureau Valley’s Christen Hurley and Emily Fordham.